Cane toads seen riding giant python 'to escape rising flood waters' in Australia

Amphibians were trying to mate with snake after being flushed out of their burrows by rising waters, according to expert

Josh Gabbatiss
Science Correspondent
Monday 31 December 2018 15:20
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Cane toads riding a giant python to escape rising flood waters in Australia

A group of toads appeared to hitch a ride on the back of a large python as they escaped rising flood waters at a dam in the far north of Australia.

In bizarre footage taken as heavy rains pounded the remote town of Kununurra, local man Paul Mock captured the moment when the snake was co-opted as a scaly taxi service.

The overnight deluge had driven thousands of cane toads to evacuate their burrows, seeking refuge on higher ground.

Concerned by the 7cm of rain that had swelled the dam, Mr Mock went to check whether there was any sign of it breaking its banks.

“I noticed because the water was so high, that it had flooded all the burrows of the cane toads which live around the edge of the lake underneath the lawn,” he told ABC.

“So they were all on top of the lawn, thousands of them.”

After heading out to investigate the other side of the dam, Mr Mock came across several of the toads apparently taking a ride on a large olive python.

The 3.5m-long python was well-known to Mr Mock, who has seen him on his land on several occasions and has named the snake Monty.

One previous encounter involved the python consuming an entire wallaby, leaving it so full it was unable to move.

Mr Mock sent the footage to his brother Andrew, who posted it on Twitter – leading to an outpouring of jokes and even some suggestions of fakery.

But while the snake appeared to be carrying its amphibian cargo to higher ground, away from the dam, one expert who saw the photo pointed out the comparisons with Uber were misplaced.

Amphibian biologist Dr Jodi Rowley from the University of New South Wales responded to the “amazing” photo, pointing out these were in fact male cane toads attempting to mate with the snake.

“Male cane toads often get a bit carried away,” she said, recalling a time when she had observed a toad trying to mate with a rotting mango.

Mr Mock had noticed the toads that had left their burrows were busy breeding, with males fighting over females.

Cane toads are an invasive species that have devastated native Australian wildlife in recent years as they continue to expand uncontrollably across the continent.

Their voracious appetites and deadly toxins in their skin mean they compete with other animals for food and can kill unsuspecting predators that try to eat them.

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