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Poisonous toads hand-collected in Taiwan to protect pets, wildlife and humans

Giant, poisonous and voracious toads are hand-collected in Taiwan with the aim of protecting domestic animals, wildlife and even humans on the island.

Volunteers from the Taiwan Amphibian Conservation Society worked with flashlight to round up toads until late Sunday night, and collected as many as 300, according to the group.

“We hope to minimize the impact of invasive species by collecting them to protect our own local species,” volunteer Guava Tsai told NBC News via Facebook on Monday.

A cane toad in Nantou County, Taiwan.Sam Yeh / AFP – Getty Images

Toads are considered lucky in the region, but the species, which measures up to 9 inches in length, is native to South and Central America and has no natural predators on the island. .

The toxin on cane toads can be fatal to humans if it gets into the eyes or mouth, according to the Australian government. The toad is also an invasive species in Australia, where eradication efforts have been underway for decades.

“It’s pretty horrible and a lot of dogs have been killed,” Rick Shine, an amphibian and reptile specialist at Macquarie University in Sydney, said of the toad toxin.

The Invasive Species Specialist Group has put toads on its global list of “100 invasive alien species,” which is compiled by an international advisory body of scientists and experts.

Feng Chen, another volunteer with the Taiwan Amphibian Conservation Society, also warned of the animals’ toxicity.

“If cane toads spread across Taiwan, it will certainly be devastating for the Taiwan ecosystem,” Chen said via a Facebook call.

The Agriculture Council has warned that toads secrete poison when threatened or rushed, and pose a threat to humans, cats, dogs and wildlife.

Yet how dangerous and damaging the toads are has not been accepted by some on the island, where they can still sell for between 3000 and 4000 Taiwan dollars (108 to 144 $).

It was legal to own a cane toad as a pet until 2016 in Taiwan, where some see it as a sign of status and wealth.

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