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Archive for March 30th, 2009

Whacking Day in Australia

March 30, 2009 @ 12:59 By: gordon Category: In the news

WhackingDay Fans of the Simpsons should get the reference in the title of this entry and can skip ahead. For the rest of you: start watching the Simpsons. Geez. Anyway, in one episode, the town of Springfield celebrates Whacking Day, much to Lisa’s horror and disgust. Basically, the citizens of Springfield drive snakes into the town square and then club them to death. Lisa enlists the help of Barry White to rescue the snakes by cranking up the bass while he signs. The vibrations attract the snakes away to safety and it’s Bart who convinces the citizens that they need to stop it because Whacking Day was original invented in 1924 as an excuse to beat up the Irish in Springfield. Now you know know about the reference to Whacking Day, so let’s return to the other people.

imageAccording to the Australian Museum’s website, cane toads are large heavily-built amphibians with dry warty skin. They have a bony head and over their eyes are bony ridges that meet above the nose. They sit upright and move in short rapid hops. Their hind feet have leathery webbing between the toes and their front feet are unwebbed. Adult Cane Toads have large swellings – the parotoid glands – on each shoulder behind the eardrum. They’re are found in habitats ranging from sand dunes and coastal heath to the margins of rainforest and mangroves. They are most abundant in open clearings in urban areas, and in grassland and woodland.

Dogs lick them and get a bit of a high from the poisons they excrete from the glands on their back. Some vets are reporting that some dogs are becoming cane toad junkies as a result. Naturally, this has lead to people licking them to get a psychadelic high from them, which is incredibly dangerous because they’re very toxic. But people still do it anyway.

They were deliberately introduced from Hawaii to Australia in 1935 to control scarab beetles, which sounded like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, no one thought to check that the toads could jump high enough to get to the beetles, which live on top of sugar cane stalks. They can’t.

They are, however, very good are reproducing.

As a result, Australia has zillions of cane toads and they’ve become a serious problem in some parts of the country. The Queensland government held its first Toad Day Out this past weekend. They held kill-a-toad festivals, with BBQs, and contests to see who could find the biggest cane toad. (No, really, I am not making this up.)

“To see the look on the faces of the kids as we were handling and weighing the toads and then euthanizing them was just…,” Townsville City Councilman Vern Veitch said, breaking off to let out a contented sigh. “The children really got into the character of the event.”

The toads were checked out by expects to ensure they were evil cane toads and not harmless banjo frogs (which happen to be endangered). If they were declared evil then they were either frozen or popped in plastic bags full of carbon dioxide. Apparently, even the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was on-board with the killing of the toads — as long as it was done humanely.

Fun for the whole family!