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A toad with a bit of sole

May, 2004

A toad with a bit of sole

A Wairarapa man returning from Brisbane could nearly have put his foot in it when a travelling cane toad hitched a ride in one of his shoes packed in his luggage. Although discovered the next morning sitting on the kitchen floor, a wet patch in the shoe suggested the toad had found an ideal hiding spot for international travel.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) praised the man’s initiative when he took it to the Wairarapa DOC area office for identification. The toad was humanely killed and sent onto MAF to confirm the initial identification.

MAF Exotic Animal Response coordinator Amelia Pascoe says as only a single toad was found the risk of this toad species becoming established in New Zealand would have been low had it not been intercepted. Cane toads may carry new parasites or diseases which could affect our native frog populations.

“If cane toads ever become established here they would have an extremely detrimental impact on our environment. We depend upon an alert and vigilant public to help keep New Zealand free of unwanted pests and diseases.”

DOC Wairarapa area manager Derrick Field says the incident highlighted the importance of maintaining our nation's biosecurity, and the threats to our economy and our environment that exist in the world. “Biosecurity is everyone's responsibility."

Cane toads can be distinguished by their warty skin, the bony ridges over each eye and an enlarged gland on each shoulder. They can grow up to 15 centimetres in length and range in colour from an olive-brown to reddish-brown on their backs with a brown flecked pale white or yellowish belly.

The glands on their shoulders can produce a secretion that is toxic to both humans and animals. For humans this secretion can cause skin and eye irritations, or a slowing of the heart if it is ingested. In extreme cases, animals such as pigs, dogs and cats have been known to die after eating a cane toad.

If you suspect you have found an exotic pest contact the MAF Exotic Disease and Pest Emergency Hotline 0800 809 966.


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