The Record-Breaking 'Toadzilla' Discovered In Australia

In 1991, the Guinness World Records named Prinsen, a pet toad in Sweden, as the largest toad in the world. The publication notes that the cane toad weighed five pounds. However, this is nothing compared to a discovery made in Australia in January 2023 (per CNN). Found in Conway National Park in Queensland, CBS News writes that the aptly named "Toadzilla" weighed almost six pounds. Like Prinsen, "Toadzilla" is a cane toad. According to Australia's Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment, and Water, cane toads, also known as Rhinella marina, are native to South and Central America.

How, then, did they end up in Australia? The University of Western Australia writes that the species was brought to Queensland in 1935 for a specific purpose: Pest control. During that time, cane beetles were destroying sugar cane crops. Perhaps cane toads could control the population and act as a solution to this problem. Per The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida implemented this idea during the 1930s. Hawaii did as well. In fact, the cane toads in Queensland were native to Hawaii. Nevertheless, the cane toads failed to complete their mission. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that the beetles lived in altitudes too high for cane toads to reach and consume them.

'Toadzilla' shocked park rangers

Although cane toads did not decrease the beetle population, they did manage to make themselves at home in Queensland and other parts of Australia, including New South Wales (via The University of Western Australia). The Australian Museum writes that cane toads are brown or yellow and have warts on their skin. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adds that they are relatively large and can grow anywhere from six to nine inches long. Despite this, CBS News reports that "Toadzilla" astonished Queensland park ranger Kylee Gray. Gray was driving in Conway National Park but came to a halt to allow a snake to pass. 

According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Gray exited her vehicle and looked down. There, she found "Toadzilla." She stated, "I reached down and grabbed the cane toad and couldn't believe how big and heavy it was." She went on to explain (via BBC News), "[It looked] almost like a football with legs. We dubbed it Toadzilla." Because of its massive size, it's believed that "Toadzilla" is a female. The agency notes that female cane toads tend to grow larger than male cane toads. Additionally, cane toads can live for up to 15 years. While "Toadzilla's" age was unknown, Gray noted that she had "been around a long time" (per BBC News).

The Department of Environment and Science euthanized 'Toadzilla'

Sadly, 'Toadzilla' did not live to see the extent of her fame and glory. The Queensland Department of Environment and Science promptly euthanized her. In a tweet, the agency cited the cane toad's negative impact on the environment behind their reasoning. According to the WWF, the cane toad is an invasive species that has severely damaged Australia's ecological community. There are over 200 million cane toads in Australia alone. Due to their resilience and ability to lay thousands of eggs at a time, the cane toad has survived in Australia with little difficulty. 

In addition, cane toads are not picky eaters. Park Ranger Kylee Gray told the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, "A cane toad that size will eat anything it can fit into its mouth, and that includes insects, reptiles and small mammals." The University of Western Australia reports that this poses a problem for Australia's native species. They compete with cane toads for food and lose, also eating the country's native species. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adds that other critters cannot eat cane toads because they are highly poisonous and contain bufotoxin. Although this is not deadly in humans, it is fatal for many animals. According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science, the Queensland Museum is interested in acquiring 'Toadzilla' for further investigation.