Initial research on the spread of cane toads (Rhinella marina) through tropical Australia reported a high incidence of spinal arthritis (spondylosis) in toads at the invasion front (where toads disperse rapidly), but not in areas colonized earlier (where toads are more sedentary). The idea that spondylosis was a cost of rapid dispersal was challenged by wider spatial sampling which linked rates of spondylosis to hot (tropical) climates rather than to dispersal rates. Here, the authors of these competing interpretations collaborate to reinterpret the data. Our reanalysis supports both previous hypotheses; rates of spondylosis are higher in populations established by fast-dispersing toads, and are higher in tropical than in temperate environments; they are also higher in larger toads. The functional reason for climatic effects is unclear, but might involve effects on the soil-living bacteria involved in the induction of spondylosis; and/or may reflect higher movement (as opposed to dispersal) or more pronounced dry-season aggregation rates of toads in tropical conditions.