Monday, May 23, 2016

flat as a pancake -- and twice as tasty

I have heard of a fellow in Australia who found a road kill cane toad flattened by several tires. He slapped a stamp on it, and mailed it to a friend.

Now, I do not know how accurate that story is. After all, people slap stamps on all types of things and mail them around the world. American GIs would mail coconuts from Hawaii that way to the folks back home.

Those of you with a scientific bent of mind already know that cane toads are quite toxic. When threatened, the cane toad exudes its poisonous defense, a bufotoxin, in the form of a milky fluid. Last summer, we discussed all of that in mr. toad's wild ride.

The writer of the Lucretia Borgia postcard undoubtedly thought dead cane toads are no more deadly than a politician trying to tell a joke. I would have thought the same, but we were both wrong. The bufotoxin glands, if hydrated, can be as deadly in death as when the toad was happily hopping through the garden. Or so said a study I read last night.

You might be curious why I am taking you on this little trip down biology lane. There is a reason. And, of course, it involves Barco.

Last night , while on one of our walks, I saw him grab something. Because it sounded like a bone he was mouthing, I did not bother wresting it out of his mouth.

And he treated it as a bone. Rather than let Güera get near him, he trotted toward the house. He just wanted inside the front door.

So, I did not bother him with his new-found treasure. About fifteen minutes later, he came into my computer room and started nudging me with his head, as if he wanted me to take his "bone" from him.

In the light, I could see it was not a bone. It looked like a fish part. He loves dead fish cured for several days on our hot streets.

When I got it out of his mouth, I could see what it was. A dead cane toad. Flat and dried, looking like an offering in a Saigon food market. But clearly a cane toad.

He did not fight me when I took it from him. I immediately went on line to discover if a dead cane toad had any danger. We all now know it can.

The next step was to take immediate measures just in case he ingested any of the toxin. A thorough washing of his mouth -- which he did not resist -- was the first step. I then monitored him to see if he showed any of the known signs of poisoning.

He didn't. He was merely a bit lethargic. But he, like Steve, gets that way late at night. I thought we were out of the woods.

We weren't. He must have ingested enough toxin (or toad body parts) to upset his digestive system. For the full day, he has had extremely watery diarrhea. Up until this evening.

His system seems to be resetting itself. If the diarrhea continues through the night, I will take him to the veterinarian tomorrow.

I suspect he will be fine. While the automatic garage installer was here this morning adjusting my garage doors (a story I have yet to tell you), Barco bolted out the door and headed straight for the garbage on the corner.

By the time I caught up with him, he had swallowed a small plastic bag filled with spicy salsa to keep the other dogs from sharing in its joys. If he can stomach both the bag and contents, I am ready to declare him a prime Darwinian survivor.

Four years ago, Gary Denness over at mexile, sent a post card of the queen to me -- partly in an experiment to see how long it would take to show up in my box. If any of you would like a cane toad post card, I could send you one.

I will even draw a caricature of the queen on it for you.

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