The Invasive Species Council was alarmed on the discovery of cane toad's cousin sitting in a dog's water bowl in the backyard of a resident in Sunbury, Melbourne.

This is the first reported sighting of the Asian black-spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) outside the port of Australia.

According to Invasive Species Council Chief Executive Officer Andrew Cox in a press release, the Asian black-spined toad would multiply the destructive forces of the cane toad and open up a more southern invasion front if established.

"Just like the cane toad, the Asian black-spined toad has poison glands, eats a broad diet and is a prolific breeder. Females can produce 40,000 eggs at a time. The toad would compete with native frogs for food and habitat, poison many of its predators (such as snakes, goannas and quolls) and potentially spread new parasites and diseases," Cox stated.

Cox further stated that once the pest is established, it is usually impossible to remove or very expensive to curb the spread of such pest.

A photograph of the black-spined toad found at the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI) Web site showed that it has a paratoid gland that excretes poisonous milky substance. It has yellow-brown highly variable most commonly pale skin color with black warty spots all over. It also has a distinct pointy snout and raised black bony ridges over the eyes meeting the nose.

According to DEPI, the black-spined toad is capable of establishing population in cooler areas that have escaped the spread of cane toads. Like cane toads, the black-spines toads may cause serious ecological problems when established. Its paratoid gland contain several bioactive compounds with lethal, hypotensive, hypertensive, neurotoxic, cardiotoxic, haemolytic and sleep inducing factors that ward of predators. Such characteristic of the black-spined toad could potentially cause severe impact for native toad predators.

Furthermore, the DEPI also stated that the Asian black-spined toad could also impact the health of human population. A person handling an adult Asian black-spined toad may experience itchiness in the nose and eyes due to the pungent odour coming from the toad's milky toxin. When consumed directly, the Asian black-spined toad's skin or eggs can lead to serious illness or even death.

DEPI also stated that individual black-spined toads have been intercepted at Australian airports from Asian flight and at the seaports from Asian vessels.

Although there is no other reported sighting yet in other places outside the Australian ports, the Invasive Species Council stated that this incident is yet another that highlights serious flaws in the biosecurity system meant to protect Australia's environment.

"We believe that a Senate inquiry is needed to examine the causes of these failures and to investigate the state of Australia's preparedness for new invasive species that could harm our natural environment," Cox stated.

He added that biosecurity staff are now doing their best to find out if the sighting of the Asian black-toad in Sunbury resident's backyard is just a one-off case or if there is a major catastrophe at hand.

"It probably won't be until next summer that we learn if the Asian black-spined toad has started to breed in the area," Cox said.

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