The Ten Thousand Toads Project
The Ten Thousand Toads Project aims to humanely catch and euthanase 10,000 cane toads (Bufo marinus) every summer through community participation.
Cane toads were recognised as an environmental pest relatively soon after their deliberate introduction into Queensland in the mid 1930s.
Why pick on cane toads?
Cane toads are native to South America but were introduced to north Queensland in 1935 to control the Greyback cane beetle and French's cane beetle. With very few enemies, abundant food and a climate to its liking, the cane toad quickly spread to other areas. Today it is well established throughout eastern and northern Queensland, northern NSW and parts of Northern Territory and Western Australia.
The cane toad is acknowledged as an environmental pest species in Australia for a number of reasons:
- they are quite long-lived, with individuals known to live as long as 16 years;
- they prey on a range of native animals;
- they are poisonous at all stages in their lifecycle, consequently poisoning many animals whose diet includes eggs, tadpoles and adult native frogs and toads;
- they carry diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to native frogs; and
- they share the same ecological niche as a range of native frogs and skinks, which means they are competing for the same resources.
How did the 10K Toads Project begin?
The Ten Thousand Toads Project arose in response to a strong community wish to control this pest species and an equally strong desire from the Sunshine Coast Council and the community to see control methods carried out in the most humane way possible.
What can I do to help?
Why not become a part of the Sunshine Coast 10K Toad Project and do your bit for nature conservation by organising a get-together with your family in your own back yard? Or, maybe make it a bigger event and use it as an excuse to invite some friends over? You could even organise a toad collecting event at your local park.
Remember cane toads are poisonous so please take care to observe all safety precautions outlined below.
There are a number of ways to control toads in your own backyard or neighbourhood:
- Remove eggs if you find them. This is best done during the day. Toad eggs are laid in strings of jelly and are easily distinguished from the eggs of native frogs which are laid in globular blobs (not strings). As Australia has no native toads, it�s a safe bet that eggs laid in long strings like those shown in the photograph here are cane toad eggs. Gently lift the strands of eggs out of the water and lay them in the sun to dry. If this is done regularly after summer rains it can help to keep toad numbers down. Always wear gloves and appropriate skin protection when handling toad eggs as cane toads are toxic at all stages of their life cycle: eggs, young toadlets and adults.
- Young and adult toads can be collected and humanely euthanised by first sending to sleep (in the fridge or via the use of clove oil) and then placing in the freezer for 48 hours. Details of this method are described below. The best time to catch toads is in the evening or at night. Kids love the fun of searching with flashlights but children must be supervised at all times by a responsible adult, cane toads are toxic, all safety precautions below must be followed.
What are the humane ways to euthanise cane toads?
After considerable consultation with veterinary surgeons and key animal welfare organisations, the following two methods of control are currently considered to be the most humane method for residents to use to euthanase cane toads:
Refrigerate then freeze
When a cane toad's core temperature reaches 8 degrees celsius its natural response is to fall asleep. This is a natural response to cold weather that cane toads and many other animals have developed. Once the toad has fallen asleep it can be placed in the freezer where it will die without regaining consciousness.
Clove oil then freeze
Not surprisingly, many people don't like the idea of having a cane toad in their refrigerator. An alternative method for ensuring the toad is asleep before going into the freezer is to place one or two drops of clove bud oil on to the toad's skin. The natural anaesthetic present in clove bud oil is easily absorbed through the toad's skin and an average sized toad will fall asleep within one or two minutes.
Safety points for freezing and disposal
- Place toads in a sealed plastic bag before placing them in the refrigerator or freezer
- Keep in the freezer for at least 48 hours
- Place dead toads in sealed plastic bags in the bin on rubbish collection day
- Toads are toxic - see additional information on handling cane toads below
Is it safe to handle cane toads?
Cane toads are toxic at all life stages and should never be handled without wearing gloves. The toxin is produced in the parotoid glands (click to see an example) but can be present anywhere on the toad's skin. If cane toad toxin is squirted onto the skin or into the eyes, first aid should be performed immediately. First aid treatment includes flushing the affected area thoroughly with water. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist.
If toxin is squirted into the mouth, immediately flush the mouth with water and take the patient to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.
When swallowed, the toxin may affect the heart, blood pressure, breathing and may cause paralysis, salivation, twitching and vomiting, with death through cardiac arrest being possible in severe cases, sometimes within 15 minutes.
For more information on cane toad poisoning, contact the Poisons Information Line on 13 11 26 anywhere in Australia 24 hours a day.
Always wear protective gloves when handling cane toads.
Cane toad or native frog?
Important! Please don't harm our native frogs, our handy guide shows how to spot the difference >
Some of our native Australian frogs look a bit like cane toads. Can you spot the cane toad in the line up below? All are native Australian species except for one which is a cane toad...
Take a look at our handy guide to learn how to spot the difference >
The Australian Government is leading the way when it comes to stopping the risk to Australia's biodiversity from cane toads. If you'd like more information you can click on the following link for detail on the Australian government policy on cane toads >