Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ahh, Cane Toads...

Ugly brutes. I think I have made an inroad to freezing a lot of them on our property out of existence, but you gotta keep looking and freezing.

For those unaware of 'humane' methods of killing them, there are three:
  1. Practice your golf swing with the heaviest driver you can get. Make sure you hit them precisely and hard.
  2. Put them into a plastic shopping bag—either by using the bag to grab them and then just turning it inside out, which is good for a single toad; or else use latex gloves to pick them up and dump several of them into one bag, which means they can die together—then tie up the bag, so they can't get out, and put them into a plastic container into a freezer for a few hours. You want the plastic container in case the bag has a hole and they pee into your freezer before expiry, which wouldn't be nice.
  3. Gas them. (Expensive and requires specialised equipment—and gas, of course!)
I favor #2 because I have spare bags, a freezer and latex gloves. Bag 'em, tag 'em, freeze 'em.

Exposure to night-time expeditions to catch cane toads has caused me to think about their value as a metaphor.
  • They're ugly.
  • They just sit there and get bigger and bigger and bigger and fatter and uglier by the day.
  • They're poisonous to just about anything that touches them, except certain ant species that eat them when they're small.
  • They are too lazy and just plain stupid to jump away when being stalked and ultimately grabbed and bagged, but struggle half-heartedly once in the bag.
  • They have no discernible function in the ecology of anything, and if placed into a system that's not adapted to them, they do great damage—without actually 'doing' anything.
  • They breed and breed and breed.
  • They can populate vast stretches of land one jump at a time.
  • They come out only at night.
  • During daytime they hide in the dankest places they can find, often squeezing together in clumps into places like rocky crevasses, overhangs at the rims of ponds, and so on.
They do, in other words, embody a number of attributes which, were said attributes to be found in humans—as they actually are, though seldom all of them at one time—would cause many people to react with instinctive disgust, loathing, or at the very least, a silent 'yak!'

Hmm. Wonder what it can mean. The cane toad as the embodiment of collective human...whatever. I can't find a word for it.

Maybe we ought to look at the cane toad not just as the pest which it is, but at something more. Maybe it is one of nature's antitheses of everything that is likeable about many individuals our own species.

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