Invasive species hitch-hike a ride into NSW

Cane toads and hedgehogs spotted in NSW

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CAUTION: If you find a cane toad always wear protective gloves and eyewear when handling potential cane toads as they extrude (and sometimes squirt) poison from glands positioned behind the head. Photo by Department of Primary Industries.

CAUTION: If you find a cane toad always wear protective gloves and eyewear when handling potential cane toads as they extrude (and sometimes squirt) poison from glands positioned behind the head. Photo by Department of Primary Industries.

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Cane toads and a hedgehog have been found in NSW.

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FIRST it was cane toads, now a hedgehog has hitched a ride into NSW.

The albino African pygmy hedgehog  - prohibited in Australia due to its potential to spread exotic diseases - was discovered in the front yard of a property in the Byron Bay area.

It comes after two cane toads were discovered last week, one in Armidale and another in Lake Macquarie.

The cane toad in Lake Macquarie was found in sugar cane mulch, used on gardens, that was delivered to a nursery from Queensland.

It takes the total of cane toads detected in NSW outside their endemic range to 14 in the past year.

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Other regions where the pesky Queensland pest has been detected include Hunter Valley, Northern Tablelands, Greater Sydney and the north west parts of the state.

The furthest south a cane road has been found was Griffith in May last year. This individual toad was a stowaway that had come back from Asia in a traveller's suitcase.

A cane toad found in Maitland earlier this year killed a pet dog.

The latest unwanted pest discoveries has prompted the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to issue warnings about the dangers of non-native invasive species.

Cane toads compete for food and habitat from native species while hedgehogs have the ability to become a serious invasive pest in Australia due to its potential to spread exotic animal diseases.

A female cane toad can lay 8000 to 35,000 eggs at any one time. While they have two clutches a year, only a small portion survive.

Meanwhile DPI vertebrate pests technical specialist Nathan Cutter said the hedgehog had been collected, euthanised and taken to the NSW State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for biosecurity screening, as it was exhibiting clinical signs of disease.

"The resident had no idea where the animal had come from, but in cases like this the animal could have arrived as an unwanted hitchhiker, or have been illegally smuggled into Australia as a trafficked animal and sold on the black market as a pet," Mr Cutter said.

DPI is calling on the  public to report sightings of invasive species, including American corn snakes, red-eared slider turtles, boa constrictors and cane toads.

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