Source: Illawarra Mercury

Jaime Teal was hanging out the washing in her Lake Illawarra backyard on Saturday evening when she looked down and saw a great ugly old cane toad gazing sleepily up at her.

She ran inside screaming to alert her husband Travis and the next 20 minutes provided great entertainment for the couple’s kids – Molly, 5, and Finn, 4 – with Mr Teal chasing the toad round the backyard with a fishing net.

He eventually caught the offender, and placed it in a box where the amphibian preceded to howl down the house all night.

“He was so noisy, he sounded like a puppy just whimpering all night,” Mr Teal said.

“I’ve looked up the information on the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) website and will give them a call to come get him.

“Either that, or I’ll take him to my mate’s house, as he’s a mad Queensland [rugby league] fan.”

Mr Teal said he’s used to wildlife in his garden which is heavily planted and has a pond and a pool, but he’s never seen anything like this.

“We get frogs and blue tongue lizards and lots of birds so when my wife came running in, I thought ‘it’s probably just a frog’ but it’s no frog,” he said.

“My neighbour who lived in Queensland for many years said it’s 100 per cent a cane toad.

“It’s as big as a man’s hand, sort of brown, orange and green with yellow eyes, and it’s very, very ugly.

“It squirted out a liquid of some kind when I finally caught it, but I didn’t get any on me and I haven’t touched it.”

A NPWS spokeswoman yesterday said people should be “alert but not alarmed” if they found a cane toad in their garden.

She said there was no “known populations of cane toads” in the Illawarra, although a population had recently been found at Taren Point and the NPWS was working with Sutherland council to eradicate it.

“It’s not uncommon to find them periodically in Sydney or the Illawarra, they usually come down the coastline as a hitchhiker on a turf or nursery truck from warmer, tropical areas like Queensland,” she said.

“They’re usually isolated cases and are unlikely to breed down here as it’s too cold for them.

“It’s something for people to be aware of when they’re buying mulch or plants from Queensland, to check that nothing has stowed away in it.”

The spokeswoman said if people found a cane toad they should check the NPWS website, which recommends they should either “humanely and safely dispose of it” or contact their local NPWS office.

She said cane toads are a pest as their toxin can kill most native animals that normally eat frogs, and they also pose a risk to pets such as cats and dogs.

“Basically it’s important to wear gloves, contain the toad and give NPWS a call to come and remove it.

“Make sure it’s not a native frog, which can be mistaken for cane toads and killed.”

Travis Teal with his children Molly, 5, and Finn, 4, and the cane toad. Picture: ROBERT PEET