What's new at Basel Zoo

Basel Zoo’s cane toad terrarium has been completely renovated: the toads’ modern dwelling now has two floors, a moisturising sprinkler system and a small waterfall.

Basel Zoo’s cane toads live in the Australis house. The single female toad is currently enjoying the newly renovated terrarium. Male cane toads are smaller than the female toads, meaning that they are in danger of being eaten by the females, who are not exactly squeamish. Said females are truly enormous, with the one at Basel Zoo being around the size of a soup bowl and weighing in at about a kilogram. Cane toads are the largest toad species in existence.

The benefits of a modern toad terrarium

The cane toad seems to be enjoying its modernised home. A sprinkler system, waterfall, LED illumination and a UV light are joined by other conveniences: a small pond fed by the waterfall, a damp cavern, and new areas with a natural ground substrate all ensure pleasant surroundings. The terrarium has also been replanted.

Ravenous immigrants

Cane toads originally come from Central and South America. In the Australis house, they show what can happen when species are introduced to foreign continents. The cane toad was introduced to various Caribbean islands in the 19th century as a way of controlling pests in the sugar cane plantations. They were supposed to combat insect pests, in particular the greyback cane beetle. The success of this is now disputed, but nevertheless the 1930s saw many cane toads being introduced to Australia for pest control purposes. This had catastrophic consequences: cane toads spread rapidly and soon became a nuisance all of their own. They reproduce extremely quickly when the conditions are right, and unfortunately feed on mouse-sized mammals and reptiles rather than exclusively on beetles. In large numbers, cane toads can even drive some species to the brink of extinction. Their skin also has glands which contain venom that poses a danger to many mammals: even dogs will often die of poisoning as a result of eating cane toads.