The cane toad found at Toormina this week.
The cane toad found at Toormina this week. Submitted

One ugly visitor

SHE’S big, ugly, packs a poisonous punch, and has authorities and local residents on high alert.

This giant female cane toad hit the scales at 650 grams when she was found in a Toormina backyard this week.

How she got here and if she is alone, are questions the Coffs Harbour City Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) are desperate to answer.

The council’s senior biodiversity officer Nigel Cotsell, suspects she may have taken the backpacker option.

“Cane toads have been known to hitch a ride down from Queensland or Northern NSW and have regularly turned up at building and development sites in Coffs Harbour,” Mr Cotsell said.

“They can hide away in pot plants, mulch, pallets, tyre wells, timber and other stored materials.

“The best means we have of stopping them establishing themselves here is to ask people to be vigilant and contact the NPWS or the council, if they think they’ve seen or found one.

There are many important frog species that look similar to cane toads, particularly the threatened giant barred frog, so if you believe you

have found a cane toad, it’s important to properly identify the species first.

The creatures are regarded by the NPWS as a significant threat to the biodiversity of the Coffs Harbour region because they contain poisons which are highly toxic when eaten by native animals.

“Cane toads are also very at home in our climate, breed easily and develop rapidly,” NPWS ranger Brad Nesbitt said.

“They can also eat a wide variety of prey so have the ability to adapt and dominate new areas very quickly.”

Native fauna that is known or suspected of being the victims of cane toads include skinks, geckos, small snakes, frogs and a variety of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates.

Anyone who thinks they have seen or found a cane toad, should contact the NPWS on 6652 0900 or the council on 6648 4000.

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