Brooke Heath from River Heads with a six-legged cane toad.
Brooke Heath from River Heads with a six-legged cane toad. Alistair Brightman

Freaky find a toad-al shock

BUDDING scientist Brooke Heath caught a little something extra in her backyard on Friday night when she discovered a very unique toad she nicknamed Hoppy.

Seven-year-old Brooke discovered one of the toads she had caught had two too many legs to hop with.

Mum Kathleen Heath said the six-legged toad would now be donated to the Queensland Museum in Brisbane, which said it was delighted to add it to the collection.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

The Heaths will deliver the toad next month when they head to Brisbane for Brooke’s annual hospital visit.

Brooke was born premature at 23 weeks and weighed less than 500g.

She was smaller than a soft drink can.

She bounced back from a survival chance of less than 5% to become the science-mad Year 2 student she is today.

Ms Heath said Brooke was a regular visitor to the museum when she was in Brisbane and adored television shows such as Bondi Vet.

“She loves frogs so she doesn’t like the cane toads,” she said.

The Heaths began clearing the pest from their garden after their first dog almost died after a confrontation with a toad.

“We’ve noticed all the natural wildlife seems to be coming back now we are getting fewer toads.”

More than 14,000 cane toads were killed across Queensland over the weekend in the third annual Toad Day Out.

Organisers in Cairns, Townsville and Charter Towers rallied residents to collect toads and deliver them to drop-off points to be killed humanely.

Queensland Museum curator of reptiles and amphibians Patrick Couper said Hoppy was the first six-legged toad he had seen in his career.

James Cook University Professor Ross Alford said the deformity was likely caused by an injury when the toad was still a tadpole.

He said deformities were common for tadpoles because limbs were still developing as tadpoles began to move around their habitats.

The limbs that suffered an injury were often still growing and weren’t able to heal properly, causing toads to spout extra limbs.

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