Wildlife : The Cane Toad

Post Number: 312
Published:

Australia Day Cane Toads!

 

Name: Cane Toad

Scientific name: Bufo marinus

Location: they are found mainly in Queensland but are spreading south into New South Wales and west through the Northern Territory to Western Australia.  There have been sightings as far west as Broome.

 

Australia is the home of four native families of frog.  There is only one ‘frog’ that isn’t native and that’s the pesky cane toad.  Originating from Central and South America, the cane toad was introduced to Australia after the apparent success of beetle control on sugarcane plantations in Puerto Rico.  About 3000 cane toads were introduced in 1935 and another 60,000 in 1937 and while they have spread like a virus, they have been unsuccessful in reducing the number of beetles.  In the meantime, any animals that eat cane toads are poisoned and sometimes die.

 

Fast Facts:

  • Cane toads don’t have any natural predators
  • They will eat pet food if left outside.
  • Cane toads are venomous and excrete a mixture of toxins from the parotoid glands behind the toad’s ears.  Their milky toxin affects heart function.
  • They are a major threat to native animals because of their toxic secretions.
  • Eradication efforts include asking residents to help collect and dispose of them.

 

If you plan on joining a Toad Buster group, it’s important that you don’t get cane toads confused with native frogs.  Cane toads are big and stocky with dry warty skin that can feel like sandpaper.  They have an ugly, bony face with a distinct M shape over their nose, and they don’t have any suckers on their toes.  Their eggs and tadpoles are jet black.

 

The best way to kill a cane toad

There is a lot of argument on how to kill a cane toad because many fight for a humane ‘disposal’.  Here are a few methods that are considered ‘humane’:

  • Putting cane toads into a bag and freezing them overnight before burying them.  When you bury cane toads, make sure you put rocks on them before filling the hole to prevent animals from digging them up.
  • There is a product called HopStop, a spray that kills toads in about an hour.
  • You can also stun and decapitate cane toads, provided that you are confident and experienced in performing this form of execution.
  • Prolonged exposure to carbon dioxide is another method.  Put the toads into a plastic bag and fill it with CO2.

 

Katherine Gorge 2014-05-11 033

 

Our Encounter

We first heard about cane toads nearby when we were in Kununurra.  They had a Toad Buster group that would go out and collect cane toads.  While we didn’t participate, as we headed further west, the threat of the toad grew.

 

Juz saw her first cane toad on a night out with some friends in Darwin.  There it was, just hopping across the road.  She approached it for a closer look but it was too dark to see it in any great detail.  The next time she saw one was with Dave on Australia Day.  They were holding cane toad races at the Nightcliff Sports Club and it was the first time we got the opportunity to see one up close.  They are truly ugly creatures.

 

In Katherine, we saw plenty of cane toads – in the national parks and at the caravan park too!

 

A cane toad at Lorella Springs

 

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