Cane toad bioinvasion

Over lunch time, I watched a Landline feature story on cane toads. Cane toads were introduced to Australia in 1935 to reduce the population of cane beetles. They’re now out of control: “The population is increasing at a rate of about 25% a year.” We’ve watched on in apprehension for years and they have finally invaded Kakadu National Park. They are now poised on the border of Western Australia.

The Landline story interviewed some Northern Territory residents who have banded together to fight the cane toad invasion on their community. On the outskirts of town, someone has set up a ‘detention centre‘. Each time a resident captures a toad, he or she drives to the detention centre and deposits the toad into the cage.

The detention centre manager comes along regularly to pour all the toads into a big clear plastic bag. As the toads wriggle over each other and frantically try to leap above their fellow detainees, the man inserts a short green tube and seals the bag around it. The bag quickly fills with a colourless gas. As the the bag expands, the toads gradually stop moving.

I thought it was hysterical.

Also hilarious is that staple of environmental sciences course, Cane Toads, the movie. It’s very funny and very Australian. My favourite bit is the scene with the swerving four-wheel drive. Go see it!

Updated 1:24 PM
This short animated film looks interesting. I haven’t seen it yet but I will download it — St Kilda Festival Best Comedy 2003, Cane Toad: What happened to Baz?


  1. lainey says:

    I read that they actually banned the ‘normal’ way of killing cane toads… using a golf or hockey stick to just give them a big whack. Now you can be prosecuted for doing that. Unfortunately for such a pest, I would advocate such insensitive methods… anything to keep the population down.

  2. ai says:

    I don’t agree with such inhumane ways of killing them. I know they’re a horrible pest, I learnt all about them in zoology. But the thing is, it’s not their fault they’re a pest, it’s actually the people who brought them into Australia. And why should they have to pay for our mistakes? They need to be controlled, but they don’t deserve a brutal death. What makes me so mad is that humans must be the biggest pests on Earth, but we don’t seem to be doing anything to reduce our population (except China), and of course it would be a crime to bash someone with a golf club just to reduce our numbers. So why do a lot of people think it’s okay with other animals? I guess the answer is that they are seen as ‘inferior’ to us ‘superior’ beings… and that’s just wrong.

    Plus, think about the kids who grow up learning to enjoy bashing cane toads. I doubt that would be a positive lesson on the value of life. Cane toad bashing would have to be worse than those R rated video games which are creating such an issue with violent kids.

    Joan, I’m sorry for leaving such a long comment! I just get so heated up when animals are abused especially by violent humans!

  3. joanium says:

    Ai, long comments are welcome and defintely read!

    I also appreciate your point of veiw — it’s not the cane toad’s fault that it’s wreaking havoc on Australia’s ecosystems. We’re all built to want to survive. Humans are the same except for our additional ability to moralise — I don’t know how evolutionarily advantageous for a species to obtain a conscience.

  4. Bryan says:

    Meg and I rented the Cane Toad movie (documentary?) one evening last year when we wanted to get smashed and watch something offbeat — it’s a big cult hit in the US.

    The creative driving scene is one of my favorites too, but I don’t think anything can top the droll scientist explaining the finer points of “amplexus”. This has inspired in me all sorts of embarrassing public behavior that I’m sure Meg would prefer you didn’t know about.

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