Toads have been exploding by the hundred in Germany because they are being attacked by crows, a veterinary surgeon has revealed.
Animal welfare workers and veterinarians had reported that as many as 1,000 toads had swelled to bursting point and exploded in recent days, propelling their entrails up to a metre into the air.
Veterinary surgeon Frank Mutschmann, who has examined the remains of the toads, says they have been pierced with a single peck by crows trying to eat their livers.
This in turn causes the toads to explode.
"The toads swell up as a form of self-defence," Dr Mutschmann said.
"But when their livers are taken away and their stomachs are punctured, their blood vessels explode, their lungs collapse and the other organs come out."
He says that between three and five crows could kill around 100 toads.
"Crows are intelligent animals. They learn very quickly how to eat the toads' livers," he said.
So many toads have died in a lake in the Altona district of Hamburg that it has been dubbed "the pond of death."