American bullfrog may wipe out local species, says MNS

GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) is worried that the American bullfrog, which has been released into the Penang Botanic Gardens, may decimate local frog species.

MNS member Mohd Abdul Muin Md Akil said most scientists had claimed that the bullfrog was the main carrier of the deadly disease chytrid fungus.

“Our local frog species are more prone to be infected by the disease. Infected frogs will have discoloured and excessive shedding of skin, and they will eventually die,” he said during an interview in Universiti Sains Malaysia here yesterday.

Mohd Abdul Muin, a science officer at the university's Centre for Drug Research, said a post-doctorate student had recently spotted a bullfrog measuring some 15cm at the garden.

He said these bullfrogs were found in Malaysia in farms where they were reared for commercial purposes as well as in pet shops.

“People will buy young bullfrogs to keep as pets because they are cute when they are small. But when its bigger, the owner may not want to keep it and will release it into the wild.

“The bullfrog will also eat smaller frogs. It can even eat up its own kind,” he said.

Mohd Abdul Muin also said a reptile, known as the Indo-Chinese water dragon, which is a type of lizard, had also been spotted in Sungai Rusa and Titi Kerawang in Balik Pulau.

“It will compete with local reptiles for food and habitat. With its bigger size, it will start to eliminate local species.

“Once established in the wild, our own species may be extinct in five or 10 years,” he warned.

Mohd Abdul Muin said he believed that a turtle species, the red-eared slider, could also be the culprit behind the eating of water lilies in the garden.

“Pet owners could have released the turtles into the garden's ponds. We need to have them removed,” he said.

The garden's chief controller Datuk Tengku Idaura Tengku Ibrahim appealed to the public not to release any exotic animal within its premise.

State Wildlife and National Parks director Jamalun Nasir Ibrahim said those who did not want to keep their pets anymore should hand the animals over.

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