Cane Toad Challenge

Cane Toad Challenge

SLNC Cane Toad Challenge

SLNC has signed an agreement to become an affiliate of the Cane Toad Challenge.  The University of Queensland – Institute of Molecular Biology has developed a bait that attracts cane toad tadpoles (which SLNC calls toadpoles) and draws them into traps set in waterbodies.  Hundreds of toadpoles can be removed each day.  The bait is made out of the toxin from adult cane toads, either to attract the toadploes to a living adult toad so that the toad can have a good meal (cannibalism) or to attract the toadpoles to a dead adult so that the toadpoles have a good meal.

However, the researchers need to have a supply of toxin to make the baits.  SLNC members cut (excise) the toxin glands off the dead adult toads, refreeze the glands, and then take it into the University and give to the researchers.  In exchange, SLNC receives free baits to use in the toadpole traps that we have constructed.  These traps consist of a plastic box with a funnel attached to the each end – narrow part inside, and the large opening facing the environment outside.  The bait exudes the attractant out the funnels into the water, the toadpoles follow the scent back in from the funnels, then can’t find there way out (although they probably don’t want to leave).

The baits are only effective for about 24 hours and the trap needs to be checked, toadpoles removed, and baits replenished each day of use.  If there is any bycatch of native frog tadpoles or native fish or other fauna, then these can be safely removed before taking the toadpoles out.  Toadpoles are distinctive, and could only really be confused with the green tree frog tadpole.  Both are black, but the toadpoles have a bigger head and narrower tail, and a totally transparent dorsal fin on their tail.  The green tree frog tadpole has black spots on their transparent dorsal fin.  The toadpoles are also killed humanely using the cool-freeze method, and then discarded in the weekly rubbish after death (48 hours in the freezer).

SLNC is conducting regular toad-busting sessions during the summer months, usually on a Friday night so school aged children can join in.