Carpet python bites off more than it can handle in cane toad fight
An image has emerged of a carpet python that died while trying to kill and eat a cane toad on Australia’s east coast.
The gruesome scene was discovered in a backyard at Kingscliff in northern New South Wales.
Resident Peter Hall said the snake kept rodents in check.
“So sad, so sorry, this was the python that’s been living in our garden for ages,” he said on social media.
“It was a beautiful, graceful animal.
Carpet pythons are mostly known to eat bats, rats and other rodents. (ABC Gold Coast: Damien Larkins)
“It’s the second one we’ve seen die like this after coming in contact with cane toad toxin.”
Mr Hall said he shared the picture to encourage people to keep killing cane toads.
He stressed, however, that the culling should be done humanely by putting the toads in a plastic bag and placing them in a freezer.
“I find it incredible that humanity has the money and resources to launch a red sports car to the edge of the known universe,” he said.
“But [we] can’t come up with a solution to the devastation that this introduced pest is wreaking on our native fauna.”
March of the toads
The spread of cardiotoxin-loaded cane toads has proven lethal for many species of native predators.
Numbers of red-bellied black snakes and goannas have declined due to the pest.
Cane toads were introduced to Australia in 1935 to eat grey-backed cane beetles, and have had a devastating impact on native wildlife. (ABC News: James Purtill)
Efforts are even being made to make the endangered northern quoll more resistant.
University of Melbourne evolutionary biologist Ben Phillips said it was surprising to see a carpet snake try to eat a toad.
“Carpet pythons mostly eat mammals rather than frogs,” Dr Phillips said.
He said most native animals have rapidly learned to adapt to toads or die, with the most successful adaptation being to simply avoid the poisonous creatures.
“Toads are a very strong [protection] force, they just straight up kill anything that eats them,” he said.
While Dr Phillips supported culling cane toads, he did not believe the practice was effective.
“Any efforts that you make in your local area to control toads will very rapidly make no difference whatsoever,” he said.
“The toads will breed or other toads will move in.”
While it may be an uphill battle, he suggested people try to reduce the environment where toads could breed in their backyards.