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Cane toads

Cane toad

Cane toads are on the march across northern Australia. Not only do they produce a poison that can kill predators that try to dine on them, their eggs are also poisonous.
Photo: Greg Calvert

Savanna Links

You can read about research on the toad's effect on the northern quoll in Kakadu National park in Savanna Links, Issue 26.You can also read about a rescue progam for quolls by relocating them on nearby islands. Click here.

Cane toads were introduced to the sugar cane fields of Queensland early last century. Since then they have spread throughout the moist coastal region of Queensland and northern New South Wales. They have also moved inland, mainly by following creek lines and spreading out during floods. These animals produce a powerful poison which can kill the predators that eat them. The toad's eggs are also poisonous.

Impact on environment

The effect of the toads on native ecosystems is still unclear. The northern spotted quoll (native tiger cat) has diminished in areas with cane toads. We know that the carnivorous quolls attack their prey fiercely in the neck region. This is where the toad's poison glands are and quolls quickly die from the encounter.

It therefore seems likely, although it is not proven, that a decline in quolls can be attributed, at least in part, to the cane toads. Goannas and snakes may also be killed when they try to eat the toads. However, recent evidence suggests that goannas can be become 'toad-wise', learning to leave the animals alone after a taste of the poison on the skin. It is also possible that the cane toad's eggs can poison the tadpoles of other amphibians, which eat eggs.


Spread of species

The march of the cane toad is continuing within the tropical savannas. The toads need water, and therefore tend to congregate around creeks or waterholes in dry times. The crowd of toads tends to eat all available prey (such as native insectivorous birds and lizards) in that area. Any effects have not been quantified.

Cane toads reached Kakadu National Park in 2001, and were first recorded in the south-east at the junction of Gimbat Creek and a creek from Mt Evelyn in April of that year. Since then they have spread northwards and westwards across the Park with sightings now occurring in Jabiru.e.

Most experts consider that beyond possibly affecting tourism in pristine native ecosystems the toads have relatively little economic impact. The animals do not seem to be a serious threat to pastoralism in savannas.

For the latest on the spread of the cane toad visit the Frogwatch website , link below, site which is being continually updated with the latest sightings of the toad. To see a recent list of research findings on cane toads click here .

Articles

Cane toad class

Gumurru Marthakal Rangers and Parks and Wildlife recently completed an extensive education campaign at Galiwin’ku Elcho Island to raise awareness of cane toads and the conservation significance of the islands All classes… [read more...]

Cane toads on Derby station

WA Department of Conservation and Land Management officers are investigating a reported sighting of cane toads on Camballin Station about 120 km south-east of Derby While there have been several sightings of cane toads in Western Australia… [read more...]

Conservation Issues of the Gulf Country

Factors causing environmental pressure on habitats in the Gulf (NT and QLD) [read more...]

Island defences help at-risk mammals

In their isolation plants and animals on Australia’s islands are protected from many harmful factors that may affect their mainland relatives A new collaborative project… [read more...]

Island refuge gives quolls chance at survival

The sorry story of biocontrol gone awry In 1935 the Australian Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations imported about 100 cane toads from Hawaii to the Meringa Experimental Station near Cairns… [read more...]

Keep cane toads out of Kimberley

Kimberley Land Council’s Land Sea Unit Staff have developed cane toad information for Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley to raise awareness of the threats of the cane toad on bush animals country and culture The… [read more...]

NT traps a fine lure for toads

Katherine resident Paul Baker has won the Northern Territory Government’s Great Cane Toad Trap Comp­etition The judges’ decision was unanimous—with Paul’s entry the most successful in trapping the toads with… [read more...]

Quolls decline with advance of toads

Article on research into the impact of cane toads on northern quoll populations. From Savanna Links, Issue 26, July - Oct 2003 [read more...]

The cane toad dialogues: disaster or disruption?

As the inexorable march of the cane toads draws closer to the Top End Dennis Schulz asks if the animal will wreak havoc on the wetland systems of the Top End—and in particular Kakadu National Park By Dennis Schulz … [read more...]

Threatened Species Network

The Threatened Species Network’s (TSN) role is to offer advice and funding to groups that would like to do land management work that will help threatened species Threatened species are those plants and animals that are disappearing… [read more...]

Toad Squad | Trees & Tracy | Landsat Images | Qld Ecosystems | Women Online | Tour Operator |

Toad Squad serenade lures feral invaders Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife officers are successfully using tape recordings of cane toad noises to catch more of the pests in Darwin’s Nightcliff… [read more...]