When she picked up the creature, she was holding a monster cane toad that she believes may be the largest of its kind in the world. This was Gray’s first encounter with the large, venomous amphibian she would soon name “Toadzilla.”
“I reached down and grabbed the cane toad and couldn’t believe how big and heavy it was,” she said in a statement from the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
After weighing the cane toad (almost six pounds) and concluding that it’s a female because they weigh more than their male counterparts, Gray said she considered naming the toad “Connie.” But on reflection, Gray said, she thought that instead of a Connie, the cane toad looked more like a “Godzilla,” the fictional monster wreaking havoc in Japan.
“We named it Toadzilla and quickly put it in a container so we could remove it from the wild,” Gray said.
Now Australian officials are trying to determine whether Toadzilla could be the largest of its kind. When the rangers returned to base on Jan. 12, they weighed Toadzilla at 5.95 pounds, which could be a world record. The heaviest toad on record was measured in March 1991 when Prinsen, a pet cane toad in Sweden, weighed 5.13 pounds and measured at 1 foot 9 inches when fully extended, according to Guinness World Records.
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While Toadzilla’s age is unclear, cane toads can live up to 15 years in the wild, leading park officials to believe “this one has been around for a very long time.”
“She has generated a lot of interest among our forest rangers because of her size,” Gray said in a statement.
Native to South America and mainland Central America, the cane toad was introduced to Queensland in 1935 to control the cane beetle population. However, in the decades since its introduction, the amphibian has not only managed to control the insects, but has also become one of the world’s worst invasive species. Cane toads, which average nearly three pounds in weight, have been “remarkably successful at reproducing and dispersing,” according to National Geographic.
The species is now estimated to number in the millions in Australia, with a range of thousands of square miles in the northeastern part of the country, according to research from the University of Western Australia.
The cane toad’s diet consists mainly of insects, but it will eat just about anything, including reptiles, birds, and even small mammals.
“They are opportunists,” the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said in a press release about Toadzilla.
The warty amphibian can secrete a milky toxin from the salivary glands behind its shoulders that can be deadly to wildlife. Cane toads are also particularly dangerous to dogs who bite the amphibian and ingest the poison.
“Eating a cane toad will result in the venom being absorbed much faster than just licking it, so if your dog has bitten or eaten a cane toad, it’s essential you get him to a vet immediately,” said Greencross Vets in Australia.
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Even with the excitement and curiosity surrounding the huge cane toad, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science announced Twitter that Toadzilla “was euthanized because of the environmental damage they cause.” Toadzilla has now been taken to the Queensland Museum for further analysis to determine if she is indeed the largest recorded cane toad in the world.
“We’re glad we removed her from the national park,” Gray said.