As Bella, a three-year-old pooch from Australia, munched away on scraps given to
her by her owner, rugby league star Jackson Crews, she did not notice that an unwelcomed
visitor had climbed onto her food. Crews did notice, but it was too late. Bella
had eaten the visitor and had swallowed it whole.
The visitor was a toxic Cane toad that is well known in Australia as being highly
poisonous and having the ability to kill an animal within 20 minutes. When under
stress or being attacked, the Cane toad releases deadly toxins which can easily
kill a large dog. The Cane toad was imported from Hawaii to combat the Cane beetle,
but was unsuccessful. The toads also breed like flies and since they have no natural
predators because of their toxicity, their numbers have greatly increased. They
are considered one of Australia's worst environmental disasters.
Bella's owner rushed her to the emergency vet where she was immediately given an
injection to make her vomit. Although her dinner came up, the toad did not. Bella
was then given a second injection and after 40 minutes, up and out came the whole
toad. Even more amazing was that after a few minutes, the toad began moving. The
toad has been named "Spew" and is being kept at the animal hospital.
Bella is one lucky dog. Dead snakes have been found with unswallowed Cane toads
still in their mouths. Scientists believe that hundreds of dogs and cats in Australia's
Northwest Territory have been killed by the toxins given off by the Cane toad. Crews
believes that it was Bella's greed that saved her life. "She swallowed it whole
– that's probably why she survived."