Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
It’s impossible to estimate the number of cane toads currently hopping around Australia, many of which call Queensland home. Not only do they endlessly breed, but they don’t stand still long enough to count them — their territory isn’t just limited to the Sunshine State, but covers parts of New South Wales and the Northern Territory, and it’s even starting to creep into Western Australia.
This animal was originally bought to our shores as a method of combating the native cane beetle, and while it proved to have a taste for the insect, it was completely useless in the field of climbing sugar cane, thus proving unable to fulfil it’s intended function but leaving it plenty of free time to overpopulate and become Australia’s most well-known pest.
Pest, perhaps, is putting it mildly. There are, however, pubs scattered across the wide brown land that have made cane toad racing a popular and regular event. Or you can replicate the spectacle in your own backyard.
A cane toad race is conducted in the following manner:
While I failed to win the prize (a coveted stubby of XXXX) my toad Bounding Beauty finished a respectable third — not too bad considering there was an amphibian fumble into the crowd mid-race. Prizes varied from the bottle of beer to a dive trip on the great barrier reef.
Pests, perhaps, but I can’t help but feel a little sorry for the humble toads in this race. They didn’t look like they were having fun, but the toads that are a part of this event are possibly the best protected (and maybe the most terrified) of their species in the whole country.