SYDNEY – Australia’s noxious cane toad is wiping out populations of a unique miniature crocodile, researchers warn, with fears the toxic warty creature could extinguish the rare reptile.
A team from Charles Darwin University studying the impacts of the foul toad in upstream escarpments found “significant declines” in dwarf freshwater crocodiles after the toads arrived.
Dwarf crocodiles are thought to be stunted due to a lack of available food, and researchers believe the crocs started gobbling up the cane toads when they came along. Dwarf crocodiles, also known as pygmy or “stunted” crocodiles, grow to a maximum of 1.7 meters, half the size of other freshwater crocs.
Lead researcher Adam Britton said there had been 28 of the rare crocs across the study area, around the Victoria and Bullo rivers in the Northern Territory, prior to the arrival of the toads.
The population declined to 10 after the toads showed up, said the study, which was conducted in 2007 and 2008 and published in the journal Wildlife Research.