Weighing in at more than half a kilo and 16cm long, ‘Big Bertha’ was found last week by Byron Council’s capital works environmental officer, Michael Bingham, on the banks of the Brunswick River near Mullumbimby.
According to the council’s cane toad project officer, Wendy Gibney, out of the hundreds of cane toads caught during the shire’s first cane toad muster in 2006, the heaviest was 325grams.
“Big Bertha takes first prize,” she said.
As part of her research, Wendy is studying the diets of toads in the shire and was surprised at ‘Big Bertha’s’ diet.
“Cane toads are not known for eating seafood and yet a stomach analysis showed this big lady had recently eaten five crabs and three molluscs,” she said.
"It demonstrates yet another habitat in which these pests can have a significant detrimental impact.
“Big Bertha was full of eggs, so she was caught just in time. Cane toads can lay up to 35,000 eggs per breeding season.”
As part of its ‘Getting a Grip on Cane Toads’ NSW Government Environmental Trust Project, the council is holding a cane toad muster at West Byron Wetlands tomorrow (Friday).
A ‘frog and toad’ seminar will begin at the wetlands interpretive centre at 6 pm. Mustering of cane toads will be from 7 to 9 pm.
“We encourage anyone who is interested to come along to learn about our native frogs, how to identify them and how to help improve their habitat,” said Wendy.
“The threats that cane toads pose for our local biodiversity will be also be discussed.
“Everyone is invited to be toad busters for an evening and try to catch a toad bigger than Michael’s 515 gram giant.
“There will be a prize for the largest toad caught during the evening.”
Cane toad busters are advised to wear covered shoes, long-sleeved shirt and long pants and to bring a torch. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
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