Exploding toads in the 'pond of death'
Hundreds of toads have met a bizarre and sinister end in Germany in recent days: they exploded.
According to reports from animal welfare workers and veterinarians as many as a thousand of the amphibians have perished after their bodies swelled to bursting point and their entrails were propelled for up to a metre.
It is like "a science fiction film", according to Werner Smolnik of a nature protection society in the northern city of Hamburg, where the phenomenon of the exploding toad has been observed.
"You see the animals crawling on the ground, swelling and then exploding."
He said the bodies of the toads expanded to three-and-a-half times their normal size.
"I have never seen such a thing," said veterinarian Otto Horst.
The death toll has been so bad that the lake in the Altona district of Hamburg has been dubbed "the pond of death".
Access to it has been sealed off and every night a biologist visits it between 2am and 3am, which appears to be the peak time for batrachians to go bang.
Explanations include an unknown virus, a fungus that has infected the water, or crows, which in an echo of the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds, attack the toads, literally scaring them to death.