Identifying a Cane Toad.
If you find a cane toad trap it live and report your finding to Council immediately.
Cane toads were introduced to Queensland from South America in 1935 in an unsuccessful attempt to control cane beetles, a pest of the sugar cane
industry. Having no natural enemies, the toads spread west into the Northern Territory and south into New South Wales. They are now a major
threat to native animals on the far north coast of NSW.
Cane toads are capable of surviving in a wide variety of habitats from moist forest to beach dunes, and are often found in gardens and along roads.
Terrestrial invertebrates provide the bulk of the Cane Toad's diet but almost any small animal that can be swallowed is vulnerable to predation.
The tadpoles of this species sometimes feed on smaller tadpoles of their own and other species.
Cane Toad Sighting Form
Identifying a cane toad
The Cane toad Bufo marinus L. is a large, squat member of the 'true toad' family, Bufonidae. The dorsal skin is very warty, with a greatly enlarged
pair of parotoid glands behind the eardrum. When the toad is handled or bitten, these glands exude a milky fluid that contains numerous types
of toxins, which primarily affect the heart. Tadpoles, which are black and up to 27 mm in total length, are also poisonous to predators. Although
adult cane toads are quite distinct, smaller toads can easily be confused with native frogs. To make sure you don't kill a native frog by mistake,
please take all toads under 4 cm long to a frog expert for identification. If handling them, use rubber gloves. To see what they look like,
listen to their croak, then take a test to make sure you don't confuse a cane toad with a native frog, visit the Office of Environment website.
Why cane toads are a problem
Cane toads are likely to cause declines in native animals by competing for food with other carnivores, by preying upon small vertebrates (such
as skinks) and by poisoning larger predators such as goannas and raptors (as the toad’s toxin is lethal to many of our native animals).
Cane toads in NSW
In NSW cane toads currently exist in a patchy distribution extending from the Queensland border south to Broadwater and west to Lismore and the
headwaters of Richmond River Valley. Isolated populations occur at Yamba and Port Macquarie.
The current rate of spread in NSW is approximately 3-4 km per year, but may be punctuated by brief periods of relatively rapid movement in some
years. Modelling of the potential distribution of cane toads in NSW predicts range extensions into north-western slopes of the Great Dividing
Range and throughout coastal areas, with potential expansion into Victoria. Cane toad populations can reach very high densities (e.g. 2000
individuals per hectare), and there is currently no efficient method for significantly reducing established populations. Trapping has some
potential to eradicate small populations or create a barrier to expansion, but is labour-intensive. The potential for biological control has
been investigated, but is not promising due to the lack of specificity among control agents available.
Cane toads in Pittwater
In the past year five cane toads have been found in Pittwater in areas of Newport, North Narrabeen and Mona Vale. It is suspected these animals
have been transported into Pittwater unwittingly under cars or trailers. All animals were destroyed.
The NPWS have reported that cane toads are occasionally found in produce trucks carrying fruit and vegetables from Queensland or the north coast
of NSW. Each female cane toad can lay as many as 35,000 eggs at a time and produce two clutches a year, leading to a population explosion.
If you find a cane toad
If you suspect you have found a cane toad, trap it in a suitable container (eg bucket) and report it to Council as soon as possible. The toad may
need to be examined by experts to determine if it has been breeding.
Be careful when handling cane toads: toxin is produced in their shoulder glands and is present in the skin of the back. If squeezed tightly the
toxin may be sprayed from the glands. When holding a cane toad, use rubber gloves and grip the toad firmly but gently. Avoid skin contact with
its toxin, and if it gets in your eyes, nose or mouth, seek medical attention. Remember to report your finding to Council and/or OEH.
Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) - 131 555
Pittwater Council - 9970 1111
Source: Pittwater Council