crapauds-buffles

These poisonous toads are colonizing Asia

The buffalo toads are one of the most impressive amphibian species that exist. In addition to their size, they are poisonous.

The buffalo toad is surely one of the most impressive amphibians you can see. If just looking at him, his presence impresses you, the next few lines will not please you. Indeed this toad is one of the most poisonous that exist on this Earth, and it is simply invading Taiwan.

Native to Central and South America, it is a species that, despite its large size, sneaks very well in the holds of ships, and once arrived at its destination, without natural predators, the buffalo toad will develop and grow its population, far from the constraints of the dense jungles of America.

This is how this species invaded the Caribbean archipelago during the 20th century, until it became an emblematic animal of the islands. Sometimes brought by humans to certain territories, to act as a predator for species that do not have one, the buffalo toad can today be found in Australia as well as in South East Asia, and in particular on the small island of Taiwan, in the China Sea, where its presence is starting to pose more problems than it solves.

An extremely invasive species

According to the Invasives Species Specialist Group, the buffalo toad is among the 100 worst species. The population is able to multiply in record time, and the animals are very difficult to eliminate, which makes the evolution of their number most often exponential. If you add to that a lifespan of 10 to 15 years in the wild and the laying of around 30,000 eggs (around 0.5% of tadpoles reach adulthood), you quickly understand why toads -buffles are invading everything.

So on the island of Taiwan, the battle has been in motion for a few days. These toads which can measure up to 10 centimeters are very well seen by the population on the island. Seen by some as real pets, they are also highly envied for their hypothetical virtue according to traditional medicine. It is surely these beliefs that brought these toads back to the country.

Because since 2016, both for overpopulation and hygiene issues, the import of these animals had been unconditionally banned, leaving the door open to the black market, which did not hesitate to jump at the opportunity.

Real toxicity

We told you at the beginning of this article, buffalo toads are poisonous animals. If they look pale next to spiders or overpowered venomous snakes, these toads have many parotid glands in their neck and back. These can secrete bufotoxin in case of danger.

A substance that the Australian government considers just as dangerous as heroin, as a class 1 drug. For humans the risks are rare. Indeed, if a few cases of death have already been recorded in history, it was always after eating one of these toads. A common practice in pre-Columbian America, but which has since disappeared.

In the case of skin infections, the most serious cases present with hallucinations or even discomfort, but the effect of the poison wears off very quickly, in about an hour.

If the danger for humans is therefore limited, it is not the same for the rest of the animal world, much less well protected than us from this kind of toxins. Bufotenin, which is the active ingredient, is capable of killing fairly large animals such as dogs or cats.

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