Cane toads, the bane of Australia’s existence. Introduced in 1935, the hugely unpopular amphibians exploded in population numbers, threatening Australian native wildlife due to their toxic skin.
Yet now, an unlikely hero has come to the rescue in the form of the Australian water rat, and it’s equal parts amazing and brutal.
Move over Hannibal Lecter, Australian water rats have worked out a way to kill cane toads with mindblowing precision.
Discovering a bunch of cane toad bodies strewn beside a creek, researches were surprised to find that the carcasses bore surgical-like cuts, some showing signs of organ removal.
According to a study published by the CSIRO late last year, the non-toxic organs of the cane toads (hearts and livers) had been removed, whilst the toxic skin on their legs had been stripped away in order to eat the muscle beneath. Nice.
The culprit was identified as the Australian water rat, officially known as rakali. Incredibly, the animals have worked out a way to eat the toads which avoids their toxic parotoid glands.
On the one hand, the handiwork of the rats disturbingly resembles that of a calculated serial killer. But on the other, it’s amazing to see how the rakali have learnt to adapt their hunting methods in less than 100 years. Good on them!
Check out the insane dissection below.
Originally native to South and Central America, the toads were brought over to try and eradicate cane beetles from sugar cane fields in Northern Queensland. Yet what started as a measly 102 cane toads eventually turned into an estimated 200 million.
What’s more, the cane toads and their beetley snacks ended up barely ever crossing paths. The toads weren’t able to reach the higher stalks of the cane plant, and unfortunately, that was the beetles’ preferred place of hang. So in the end, the introduction of the toads to Australia was basically pointless.
On a more positive note, rakali were originally referred to as “water rats”, but received a name change in the 1990s following a push to return to the use of Indigenous names.
Good job rakali. First stop, cane toads. Next stop, the world.