Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce warns of hitchhiking Thai toads on Aussie luggage

By @vitthernandez on
Black-Spined Toad
This is the hitchhiking toad that the Australian government has warned Aussie tourists in Thailand. Agriculture.vic.gov.au

Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce warned Aussies who travel to Thailand to check their luggage for stowaway black-spined toads. More than just lowering the rate of hitch-hiking toads, Joyce wants to keep out the exotic pest out of the country.

In a press statement, the minister explains: “The black spined toad could devastate our $41 billion agriculture export industries as well as our unique environment, native flora and fauna, our tourism industries and lifestyles.”

He advises Aussie travelers in Thailand to check their shoes and other items left out overnight if the toads hide inside. Most of the toads are from Khao Lak, an area north of famous Thai beach destination Phuket.

The Agriculture Department is working with hotels in the area and Australian travel agents to disseminate information about the hitch-hiking toads.  In the past few weeks, Australian biosecurity officers have discovered six toad stowaways, thrice the annual number in the past years.

Because the black-spined toad is not endemic to Australia, the country has no natural predators to take care of the pests if it were to gain foothold in Australia, Joyce says. Aussies who spot one should contain it as much as possible and report the incident to the Department of Agriculture at 1800 798 636.

In March, the National Parks and Wildlife Service issued an alert for the toad after it found one in a Belrose backyard in Sydney’s northern beaches. It likely arrived aboard a shipping container from Singapore, said a spokesman of the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage.

While vets from the Taronga Zoo identified and killed the toad, the Parks and Wildlife investigators check if it established a breeding population. The toad often congregates in open area and beneath street lights to catch insects, reports Daily Telegraph.

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