Is the Australian Crow Smarter than Other Bird Species?

Why Crows Are Eating Cane Toads Alive

Cane toads are one of the greatest threats to Queensland’s wildlife. Since their introduction in June 1935, there are now an estimated 1.5 billion toads that occupy the state. The spread does not seem to be slowing down, as hoards of cane toads slowly head towards South Australia.

Unfortunately, cane toads don’t have any predators. This is partly because they are an introduced species and partly because they are quite toxic.

In an effort to curb wildlife fatalities, experts have been training animals to avoid eating cane toads, by way of aversion therapy.

However, there is one animal that has found a way past the toxin: the Australian crow.

Australian Photographer, Steve Wilson managed to capture the moment a crow figured out how to eat cane toads without being poisoned. By grabbing the toad by the eye, the crow can avoid the ooze that is secreted from the glands on their back.

The crows carefully pick out the parts that are not poisonous by rolling the toad on its back. They pick out the thighs, tongues and intestine.

 


 

There have been sightings prior to the photo, with reports suggesting crows in different regions mastered this skill in 2007.

Crows are renowned for their learning capabilities; it may be that the crows in Queensland watched crows in other territories pick apart the toad and then brought that skill back to Queensland with them. However, it is just as likely the crow worked it out independently.

If this trend continues for crows, we may finally have a solution to our cane toad problem, and while being eaten alive is a fate you wouldn't wish upon your worst enemy, it might curb the spread of the toads further south.

Lead Image: Ian Sutton, Mackay, Qld. 

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