Thursday, April 06, 2006

Can I Buy You a Beer, Kermit?

In my never ending quest to report on all things frog, I’ve come across the best story I’ve yet seen. This one comes from Australia, and though it is apparently very serious, it feels as though it should be a sketch in The Flying Circus. In Australia’s Northern Territory, near a town called Darwin, cane toads are invading.

It seems that 70 years ago, cane toads were introduced to Australia in an effort to control the pesky insect population that was eating the sugar cane crops. In the fashion of those wonderful Guinness commercials, Brilliant! Only, not so much.

While the can toads did their job admirably, they refused to become part of the food chain. Cane toads are venomous, and are toxic to any animals that eat them or lick them, as many dog owners have discovered to their dismay. So, while cane toads are controlling the Australian insect population, there’s nothing controlling cane toads.

Except Australians, that is. One MP down under made a public suggestion last year that the people of Darwin and the surrounding territories kill cane toads by clubbing them with golf clubs and cricket bats. Brilliant! Only, not so much.

Since his suggestion was made, there has bee a public outcry against cruelty to animals. They are afraid the youth who take the MP’s suggestion to heart will try their techniques on kittens as well as toads.

There are other ways to cause the Big Sleep in cane toads. The RSPCA (Australian ASPCA) has determined that rubbing hemorrhoid cream on cane toads will anesthetize them and then kill them. Brilliant! Only, not so much.

Who in their right mind wants to carry hemorrhoid cream around with them? Someone suggested combining these two approaches, and rub hemorrhoid cream on the heads of the golf clubs. This was met with equally silly responses.

There is also the option of catching them alive and sticking them in the freezer. Again, this might be a novel approach until some unsuspecting individual reaches for a popsicle and pulls out a frozen frog leg.

However, the best and most truly brilliant idea implemented to date to rid Australia of the awful amphibians is an exchange – turn in a toad, get a voucher for a free beer at a local hotel. You could drink free for a year by letting your children do something they probably enjoy in the first place – catching toads.

I’m booking a flight next week.