I was informed by one of my PhD students that a place in Sweden is sponsoring toads, the idea is that you pay a fee to support a toad. As a result the nuclear chemistry and industrial materials recycling sections of the department of chemical and biological engineering are considering if they should have a whip round and then sponsor a toad.
Now before we get going toads have had a bit of a raw deal, they get a bad press which they frankly do not deserve (at least not always). For example they get blamed for giving people warts, and toxic mushrooms are called “toadstools” (why can they not have sofas or armchairs ?) and why are driving test examiners compared with toads ? You might argue that this web page is biased against toads and is an example of hate speech against toads.
But I would say that the cane toad is a nasty little so and so who needs to be put in his/her place, maybe the other toads should take the cane toad behind the potting shed and reeducate it a little.
It is important to note that all the toads have toxin which protect them, one of the toxins which the common european toad has is a cardiotoxic steroid. This is an interesting molecule called bufotalin which has been isolated from a range of different toads. One paper (A.Kalman, V.Fulop, G.Argay, B.Ribar, D.Lazar, D.Zivanov-Stakic, D.Vladimirov, Acta Cryst., 1988, C44, 1634-1638) used the Chinese toad Ch’an Su as a source of the toxin. The molecule is a steroid which has an additional six membered ring group attached. The additional group is an aromatic ring which is in disguise. Here is a molecule of bufotalin.
I will write more about the “toad toxin” later