Northern quoll, snails, crocodiles and snakes are each badly affected by the cane toad. But our reaction to each differs considerably. It's not unusual; humans form different views on animals all the time: eating any type of meat is off the agenda for many people whereas some people might draw a line at eating dogmeat.
The cane toad is a fascinating study. Nine out of ten Australians rate the toad in their "top 5" ferals if asked (the next feral of concern if the cat at 7 out of 10). But in general, invasive animal scientists probably don't rate the cane toad in their "top 5". As far as we know, cane toads have never caused an extinction, they don't cause any measurable agricultural damage and most species tend to recover from the initial toad invasion. The fact that they are ugly and pretty common, so lots of people have had a personal encounter, are probably two of the reasons they occupy top spot.
That's certainly not to say cane toads are a good thing. They aren't.
The toads continue to move westward across the Top End of Australia, expanding their almost 75-year march. As they move, more animals are impacted by them and that impact depends on the specific trait of each species. One snake, the keelback, happily eats them with no impact, others eat them and die, some avoid the toads and some have actually evolved (having a smaller mouth and bigger body is an advantage if you can't resist a toad - it means you can only eat a small toad that doesn't have enough poison to kill you).
The Northern quoll is considered to be at huge risk from the toad. This beautiful marsupial basically eats a toad and dies. But over the past few years, the Northern Territory Government has established an "insurance" population. They put 64 quolls onto a couple of islands to keep them away from the toads. The islands were obviously to the quoll's liking because those 64 have bred to around 6,000! We also know quolls aren't completely wiped out by toads (they still exist in Queensland) so hopefully we can identify ways they survive and reintroduce them in time.
But who's heard of the impact of cane toads on snails? Narrow-range land snails. Well, there are a bunch of them in the path of the toad expansion. "Narrow-range" means precisely that - they tend to exist in only small areas and guess what? Toad predation can be up to 100%
Snake people love their snakes. Most people probably acknowledge we need snakes in the environment, but are happy not to personally encounter them. The unfortunately-named Northern death adder is one of those species that eats toads and dies. About 70% of the population can disappear during a toad invasion and the entire range of the species is in the toad pathway. Not a great outlook.
Even top predators can get hammered by the toad. Mike Letnic and colleagues at the University of Sydney showed up to 70% or more of freshwater crocodiles in arid areas can succumb to toads. In those lower rainfall areas the crocodiles don't have a lot of food available and the toads have to stay close to the water.
Maybe the cane toad has already wiped out some land snail species. Maybe we'd never heard of it and never will? As a society we tend to value species quite differently, but who's to say the land snails or the death adder are less important in the ecosystem than a Northern Quoll? Our response to cane toads probably needs to put aside societal repugnance of the invader so we don't over-react as well as take a catholic approach to the invaded so we don't react too selectively.