Visitors to Hamburg parks are being warned to watch out for exploding toads.

Several thousand toads in the city’s parks have so far mysteriously spontaneously exploded, sending entrails and toad body parts over a wide area.

Vets and animal welfare workers said the mystery has decimated the city’s toad population as well as the unpleasant problem of leaving toad parts scattered around parks and open spaces.

Eyewitnesses say the toads swell up to three and a half times their normal size before suddenly exploding – sending entrails flying metres into the air.

Nature protection worker Werner Smolnik from Hamburg said over the last four days at least a thousand toads had died in this manner in scenes reminiscent of a science fiction film.

He said: “It is a complete mystery, we have a lot of ideas which we are following up, but at the moment we haven’t the faintest idea if any of them are correct.

“It could be an unknown virus, or a fungus that has infected the water or a defence mechanism against aggressive crows which have appeared in the area recently.

“You see the toads crawling along the ground, swelling and getting bigger as they go until they are like little tennis balls, and then they suddenly explode.”

Vet Otto Horst added: “I have never seen a thing like it.”

“It’s a real puzzle,” agreed Janne Kloepper from the Hamburg Institute for Hygiene and the Environment, adding: “If this keeps up, there will be no toads left in Hamburg.”

More here.