Yeah! 2018 is over! The year that brought us "shower rat is in incredible pain, actually" and "the adorable bear cub in that video you shared probably died" has finally been defeated! It’s time to march forward into the bright future of 2019, a year of hope, progress, and – wait, what?
We regret to inform you that 2019 is full of horny toads confusedly sexually assaulting a gigantic python.
Paul Mock, a farmer from the northern Australian town of Kununurra, found the reptile-amphibian orgy over the weekend after a local storm. The 68-millimeter (2.7-inch) rainfall had flushed out dozens of toads from his dam – and some, as Paul’s brother Andrew commented on a viral image of the event, “took the easy way out” by apparently hitching a ride on a local python named Monty.
Cute, huh? Oh my sweet summer child, of course not.
It wasn’t long before Science Twitter noticed the image, and they knew exactly what they were looking at: pure filth.
That’s right. According to Jodi Rowley, curator of Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology at UNSW in Sydney, this is no happy tableau of some little hoppers hitchhiking on a friendly reptile. These are cane toads – poisonous beasties capable of exterminating entire species and devastating ecosystems – and while they’re definitely riding that python, it’s, uh, not in the way you thought.
“All of these male cane toads [are] lined up along the snake sort of grabbing it, hoping, desperately hoping, that it is a female frog,” Rowley explained on CBC’s As It Happens. “It's a bunch of overly excited male cane toads trying to mate with a female cane toad – but they've got it wrong.”
It turns out cane toads, the little amphibian perverts, are notorious for this kind of thing. All it takes is heavy rainfall and the slimy lotharios will start humping away at anything that moves – and quite a few things that don’t.
“I have personally seen ... cane toads trying to mate with a rotting mango as it floated in a bit of water.” Rowley said. “And there was a bit of competition for that rotting mango.”
“I've actually picked up a frog before and they've been so keen that they've tried to mate with my hand,” she added.
At 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) long, Monty may be a formidable predator, but even he is no match for the amorous amphibians. Not only are they too strong for him to shake off, but they’re also completely toxic to eat – so, just like the worst date you’ve ever been on, he doesn’t even get a meal to make up for all the hours of unsatisfying grinding he’s endured.
“They've got a bit of a grip on that poor snake,” explained Rowley. “There's nothing that snake can do except for wait until they realize their error and get off on their own accord.”