SOMEWHERE in China, a toad hopped into a factory and made itself at home inside a porcelain candlestick.
Many weeks later, a customer shopping in Mr Price Home in Claremont was surprised to see the amphibian nestled inside the candlestick.
Store staff were alerted and they called the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.
Brett Glasby, manager of the organisation’s wildlife unit, went to investigate.
“We have come across a fair number of animals that hitch-hike, but this is the first time we have encountered a toad. We’ve had snakes in imported timber, scorpions in fruit.
“We were called because (the toad) was inside the candlestick. We had to break it to get it out. It was manufactured in China and the box was not opened between China and the store here, so we can deduce it has come all the way from China.”
Glasby said the toad’s adaptation mechanism to survive drought kicked in during the voyage.
The critter was seriously hungry when Glasby put the toad into water at the SPCA offices in Grassy Park. Staff have been feeding it worms and crickets and it has not stopped eating.
Glasby hopes to find the travelling toad a home, possibly at Two Oceans Aquarium or Butterfly World. He would consult CapeNature.
However, it appears the travelling toad’s days are numbered and it will have to be put down. It is a potentially invasive creature and poses a threat to indigenous frogs.
Andrew Turner, scientific manager at CapeNature, identified the toad as the Asian common toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus).
“Frogs are particularly vulnerable to novel pathogens and parasites and to protect the unique frogs of the Western Cape from any pathogens from the accidentally introduced Asian common toad, CapeNature will have the toad euthanased in accordance with international best practice,” Turner said.
“This species is not endangered in its native Asia and is a potentially invasive species.”