When she picked up the creature, she was holding a monstrous cane toad that she believed might be the largest of its kind in the world. This was the first time Gray encountered the large, venomous amphibian he would soon name “Tadzilla”.
“I reached down and grabbed the cane toad and I couldn’t believe how big and heavy it was,” she said in a statement released by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
After weighing the cane toad (almost six pounds) and concluding that it was a female because they weighed more than their male counterparts, Gray said he was considering naming the frog “Connie.” But upon further consideration, Gray said, she thought that instead of Connie, the cane toad looked more like “Godzilla,” the fictional monster wreaking havoc in Japan.
“We named him Toadzilla and quickly put him in a container so we could get him out of 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 the base on January 12, they weighed Toadzilla at 5.95 pounds, which may be a world record. The heaviest frog on record was measured in March 1991, when Prinsen, a domestic cane frog in Sweden, weighed 5.13 pounds and measured 1 foot 9 inches when fully extended, according to Guinness World Records.
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Although Toadzilla’s age is unclear, cane toads can live up to 15 years in the wild, leading park officials to think “this one has been around for a long time.”
“She generated a lot of interest among our ranger staff 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 help control the cane beetle population. But in the decades since it was introduced, the amphibian has not only failed to control the insects, but has become one of the world’s worst invasive species. Cane frogs, which average almost three pounds, have been “remarkably successful in breeding and dispersal,” according to National Geographic.
The species is now believed to number in the millions in Australia, with a range of thousands of square miles in the country’s northeast, according to research by the University of Western Australia.
The cane toad’s diet consists mainly of insects, but it will eat almost anything, including reptiles, birds, and even small mammals.
“They are opportunists,” the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said in a Toadzilla news release.
The warty amphibian can secrete a milky venom from the parotid glands behind its shoulders, which can be fatal to wildlife. Cane toads are also particularly dangerous to dogs, who bite the amphibians and ingest the toxin.
“Eating a cane toad will cause the toxin to be absorbed much faster than simply licking it, so if your dog has bitten or eaten a cane toad, it’s important to get him to the vet immediately,” according to Greencross Vets in Australia.
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Despite the excitement and curiosity surrounding the giant cane toad, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science announced on Twitter that Toadzilla was “euthanized due to the environmental damage they cause.” Toadzilla has now been taken to the Queensland Museum for further analysis to see if it is indeed the largest recorded cane toad in the world.
“We’re glad we got her out of the national park,” Gray said.