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Jumbo cane toad dined on seafood

Big Bertha, who weighed in at more than 500 grams.
Big Bertha, who weighed in at more than 500 grams. Peter Gibney

BIG Bertha's last supper was a feast.

Officially Byron Shire's biggest recorded cane toad, the monster weighed in at more than half a kilogram with a stomach packed full of seafood.

Found by Byron Shire Council capital works environmental officer Michael Bingham on the banks on the Brunswick River near Mullumbimby on the weekend, she stretched 16cm in length and a fat 11.5cm across.

Council cane toad project officer Wendy Gibney was astonished at the toad's size - and its diet.

“None of the stuff I've read has shown seafood in their stomachs,” she said. “They usually eat insects. In their native environment in South America their main diet is ants and beetles.”

A dissection of this toad showed it had recently consumed five whole crabs and three molluscs. She was also full of eggs.

Dubbed 'Big Bertha' by council staff, much has been made of her extraordinary girth.

Ms Gibney said the next-biggest cane toad found in the Byron Shire was almost 200 grams lighter than Bertha at 325 grams.

Over the past two years of cane toad musters held by the council to capture the eco-terrors, the average toad was only nine centimetres long and weighed just 65 grams.

The next muster is scheduled for West Byron Wetlands on Friday, April 3.

Toad busters can listen in on a frog and toad seminar from 6pm at the wetlands interpretive centre, and mustering commences at 7pm.

Ms Gibney said many local cane toads had already laid their eggs and she was receiving reports of black masses of little toads around local dams and waterholes.

KNOW THE TOAD

• An introduced species, cane toads are a serious threat to native wildlife.

• They rob frogs of their food and eat native lizards and frogs.

• They can also poison native animals if eaten.

• They can be mistaken for native frogs.



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