Cane Toads in Australia Essay

Table of Content


The cane toad is regarded as one of Australia’s most highly invasive and feral species. Native to central and south America, 3000 were released in 1935, onto sugar cane plantations. This occurred in hopes of devouring cane beetles that caused a lot of damage to the crops. This is one of Australia’s worst mistakes as these toads could not eat the beetles; they survived on the upper stalks of the cane; out of reach. Cane toads have become an issue by being both highly venomous and eating almost anything that fits in their mouths.

This means that vulnerable animals that are native, are missing out on food and becoming endangered. Toads can produce up to 35000 eggs in one spawning, thus spreading through Australia at an alarming rate. (See figure 1 for diagram. ) Cane toads are distinguished by its light brown, dry warty skin. It has a bony ridge that meets at its nose and has a big black eye on either side of its head. Adult cane toads are equipped with parotoid glands behind their ear drums that squirt poison when pressured. (See figure 2 for diagram. These are very dangerous as they can blind adults for several hours, fatal to pets and possibly young children. Area’s Affected by Cane Toads In 1935 Australia’s first cane toads were released in areas around Cairns, Gordonvale and Innisfail in northern Queensland. More toads were freed around Ingham, Ayr, Mackay and Bundaberg. Cane toads have spread rapidly through southern Queensland, New South Wales and up into Northern Territory. They have even been recently spotted along the border of Western Australia. Refer back to figure 1)There are now numbers over 200 million in population and have been known to spread diseases distressing local biodiversity. How and Why They Are Now a Problem The invasion of cane toads in Australia shows that the government’s decisions aren’t always the right ones. They were not a solution to the spread cane beetles in the 1930’s because the beetles survived on the tips of the cane stalks; the toads just couldn’t jump high enough. A pesticide was soon developed to keep the cane beetles under control, yet the toads turned eral. There was even a league of scientists who were aware of the damage that these amphibians could cause and protested against the release, yet were regrettably unsuccessful. The government is willing to spend up to $10 million on campaigns to help get rid of this unfortunately common pest. Society, now forced to live with cane toads, have vast ways of dealing with them. Australian Minister of Parliament from the Northern Territory, David Tollner, urged people via radio that they should club toads to death with golf clubs and cricket bats.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

It is also common for people to deliberately run over them on the roads. Many exterminate cane toads in a more humane manor, by freezing them so they don’t feel pain. A minority of Australians find that the toads, are actually good company to keep and refuse to kill them; to the extreme of breeding numbers of their own and keeping them as pets. Impacts of Cane Toads Cane toads threaten domestic animals such as dogs and cats. What’s more is that they create a very real menace to native wildlife, especially native frog species but also other animals such as quolls, goannas and snakes.

This happens because unsuspecting creatures such as snakes prey on them, then the toads spray poison from the glands, on the sides of there bodies in defence. This usually kills the predator. It has even been proved that it can blind a human for several hours and could be fatal to children. Cane toads also easily adapt to certain climates and environments and will eat anything from bird eggs and mice, to pet food and their own young. It has even been reported that they will swallow ping pong balls. This results in animals starved of their specific diets because the toads have deprived the environment, in which they have invaded.

A long term consequence of this is that many valued Australian animals will become endangered or even extinct because of the cane toad’s existence in our country. On the agricultural front, these disastrous amphibians eat large amounts of dung beetles resulting in an increase of flies in certain areas. Cane toads will also devour honey bees which lead to issues with honey production and natural plant pollination in regions where this is a problem. This crisis that nearly all Australia is suffering has to be solved, or its unique flora and fauna will never be the same.

Managing Cane Toads Scientists at the CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory in Victoria have been searching for biological controls of cane toads. In 2001 they began investigating gene technology as a way to control them. Scientists at the University of Adelaide have also isolated a sex pheromone in a native Australian frog; they hope that a similar one will be found in cane toads and could be used to upset their breeding cycle. By altering the cane toad’s metamorphosis, it will prevent it from maturing and reproducing.

The idea comes from a study that was done in the US on bullfrogs, where a vaccination in tadpoles, interfered with metamorphosis. As cane toads begin to spread all the way into Western Australia, volunteer groups are fighting to stop them from invading the entire state. The Kimberly Toad Busters are one of the biggest and is an entirely volunteer group. It receives $79 000 from the federal government as well as half a million dollars from the state government each year, though none of this money is gained by the individuals within the group.

The team of cane toad haters are the main cause for keeping the cane toad front line from reaching any further into the state, while scientists discover an efficient, biologically controlled solution. A management solution that would definitely help Australia’s battle against cane toads, is to receive a monetary gain from the government for every cane toad killed and accounted for. Enticing the public that they will be rewarded for their hard work, more people will become enthusiastic about eradicating the pest and populations of cane toads will decrease.

This may become a big economic expense to put into action, but helping the future of Australian wildlife, far outweighs the price payed for it. Conclusion Cane toads have caused Australia a lot of havoc over the years. They have proved no good reason for staying here, due to how toxic they can be, as well as the amount of nutrients they strip from the atmosphere. What makes them less tolerable is that they spread like wild fire so they are everywhere you look, especially when it is very hot and wet.


Cite this page

Cane Toads in Australia Essay. (2019, May 02). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront