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Bad news for toads

Posts: 2546
Community Member
Topic starter
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago

seem to be suffering from killer disease here ... -toad.html

1 Reply

Posts: 752
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Prominent Member
Joined: 15 years ago

Thanks for sharing this Martin.

The story is very depressing. This Chytrid fungus infection is wiping out amphibian species across the world. Amphibians are facing extinction to a much greater extent than any other group of animals.

The big mystery is how this fungus is spreading. There may be a very odd connection between this and pregnancy testing for women.

In the past before modern tests, pregnancy used to be tested by injecting urine into a species of South African Frog Xenopus leavis. When kept in laboratories and fed well, this species can be very fecund. These frogs subject to the urine of pregant women would produce eggs shortly after. This species was easily bred and therefore it was spread across the world to various laboratories for its use in pregancy testing.

Unfortunately this species carries the chytrid fungus, but does not seem itself to be affected.

This is one theory, but some say it cannot explain why this fungus has appeared in places such as pristine rain forest.

One thing I do know is that Portugal has a very large number of university based herpetologists studying its amphibian and reptile fauna. The Sierra Estrela gets alot of attention from these people. It is possible that one of these people has spread this disease from a laboratory to the field. Xenopus laevis is commonly kept as a pet frog, and I have seen them once for sale nearby in Castelo Branco. It is always possible (but unlikely in my view) that this disease could have been caused by the release of a pet frog


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