Ibis have learnt how to stress and wash cane toads

@JudyEv (293663)
Rockingham, Australia
November 24, 2022 6:22am CST
I wrote once about cane toads. These were introduced to Queensland years back to combat a particular beetle that was causing havoc in sugar-cane plantations. Unfortunately, when the cane toad ran out of beetles, or even before, it went touring right across the top end of Australia and is now heading down the Western Australian coast. The toad has also caused the near-extinction of some of our native creatures, due to a toxin-filled parotid gland just behind the head. Interestingly, some native carnivorous birds and animals have found ways to safely kill and eat the toads. The latest to come to the attention of conservationists is the ‘stress and wash’ method employed by ibis. The ibis pick up the toads and flick them about. The defence mechanism of the toads comes into play and they release their toxins. The ibis – and I love this bit – then take the toads down to the creek and ‘wash’ them by swishing them through the water. This is a learned behaviour but is now being observed in multiple different regions. It seems the toxin isn’t particularly dangerous to birds. Some have learnt to avoid the shoulder glands and will flip the toad over to expose the softer underbelly. Gradually, our native species are learning to deal with this odious pest. The photo is of straw-necked ibis on our farmlet in Donnybrook.
13 people like this
13 responses
@Beestring (8560)
• Hong Kong
24 Nov
Yes, that's the wonder of nature.
4 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
Animals adapt to their changed environment eventually.
3 people like this
@Beestring (8560)
• Hong Kong
26 Nov
@JudyEv That's right.
2 people like this
@FourWalls (49212)
• United States
24 Nov
That is fascinating! I wonder if their toxin glands are like the stink glands of a skunk: they can only release one spray, and it takes them a day or two to “re-fill” the stink gland.
4 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
I don't know about that part of it but it sounds logical.
4 people like this
@rsa101 (36135)
• Philippines
25 Nov
It's interesting to watch how nature adapts when something unfamiliar enters an ecosystem. I believe that eventually the invasive species will likewise integrate into the ecology and restore balance. We can only hope they won't drive other species extinct.
3 people like this
@rsa101 (36135)
• Philippines
26 Nov
@JudyEv I think we have one as well during WWII this certain frog also was brought to us somehow by travelling ships from abroad now they become part of our ecosystem and somehow adapted already.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
It was worrying for a while as our small carnivorous marsupials were dying from ingesting the toads. They seem to have the hang of dealing with them now.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
@rsa101 Some of our pests come in on boats too but the authorities try hard to keep them out.
1 person likes this
@BarBaraPrz (39300)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
24 Nov
Even animals 'live and learn'.
4 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
Yes, that's true. And it's good they do as the toads were really taking over the place.
2 people like this
@DaddyEvil (102940)
• United States
24 Nov
Crows in the US have learned how to slice open toads and frogs to remove the liver so they can eat it. Scientists thought the amphibians were exploding when the first ones were found.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
Crows are very intelligent apparently. They must be smart to work out how to do that.
2 people like this
@DaddyEvil (102940)
• United States
26 Nov
@JudyEv Yes, they are. Scientists have tested them and believe they have as much intelligence as apes. This article is very interesting, if you feel like reading about it.
https://mindmatters.ai/2021/02/we-knew-crows-were-smart-but-they-turn-out-to-be-even-smarter/#:~:text=True%2C%20crows%20can%20be%20as,probably%20could%20not%20outperform%20apes.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
@DaddyEvil Thanks for the link and I did read it. I'm sure we have plenty more to learn about animal intelligence.
2 people like this
@LouAvul (2246)
24 Nov
There's no photo yet. What an interesting method.
4 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
I still occasionally try and post a photo that's too big! lol
2 people like this
@rebelann (102902)
• El Paso, Texas
24 Nov
Oh what havoc humanity has wrought on many eco systems, it's good to hear that some predators have learned ways to deal with these kinds of pests.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
It's certainly good news as many small marsupials were dying from eating the toads.
2 people like this
@RebeccasFarm (77451)
• United States
25 Nov
This is incredible Judy..I find such things fascinating.
2 people like this
• United States
26 Nov
@JudyEv Amazing Judy yes it is good
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
The cane toad seemed unstoppable but it's good the native animals are starting to work out ways to combat its advance.
2 people like this
@jstory07 (125613)
• Roseburg, Oregon
25 Nov
Thanks for sharing this information I never knew that before.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
It's good to know something can deal with these awful toads.
1 person likes this
@wolfgirl569 (64937)
• Marion, Ohio
24 Nov
Nature does learn to adapt to changes. Maybe the birds can get some control of the toads.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
They are hoping the ibis and other birds will become even more adept at getting rid of the awful things.
2 people like this
@Fleura (23101)
• United Kingdom
24 Nov
That is so clever, I wonder how they learnt to do that?
2 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
You'd have to wonder. They must puzzle it out even if they only have a tiny brain.
2 people like this
@LindaOHio (109106)
• United States
24 Nov
Animals are amazing the way the adapt. Love the photo.
3 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
It's good that there are now creatures that can prey on the toads. They are a nightmare.
2 people like this
• Indonesia
24 Nov
I've seen so many rats and frogs in Australia, I forget which part of Australia. Are rats and toads pests in Australia?
3 people like this
@JudyEv (293663)
• Rockingham, Australia
26 Nov
The cane toad is a real pest in the north but it's gradually coming further south too.
2 people like this
• Indonesia
26 Nov
@JudyEv Oh I see..
1 person likes this