Australia’s Worst Environmental Disaster

Enlisted to remove pests, it soon became an even deadlier pest.

Here is the toad that was supposed to save Australia from the blight of the beetle which was destroying the sugar cane crops. But who is going to save Australia from the toad? The toad has thrived in Australia reaching a healthy 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) weight.

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Australia’s Worst Environmental Disaster

Initially they were introduced into the environment to aid Australia in getting rid of the Grey back Cane Beetle and French’s Cane beetle which was destroying the roots of sugar cane. The Australian Bureau of Sugar Experimental Stations imported about 100 toads from Hawaii to the Meringa Experimental Station near Cairns. In 1935 due to their fast ability to breed there were 3000 released in the sugar cane plantations of north Queensland.

The Toad which was to Eradicate Pests soon Became a Bigger Pest

  • They are poisonous in all their life stages and have poisoned pets and humans with their toxins
  • Many native animals which normally feed off frogs, tadpoles, and frog’s eggs have been poisoned
  • They have created a shortage of honey bees
  • They compete with other animals for food, causing a shortage of food for native animals
  • They have increased in population. A pair of cane toads can produce from 20,000 eggs to 60,000 per spawning (depending on which site is correct).
  • The cane toad secretes poisons, mainly through gigantic glands on either side of its head, and can spew venom several feet
  • The toads excreted poisonous venom strong enough to kill dogs and even humans, earning itself the title of one of the worst invasive species in the world and taking its place in the Global Invasive Species Database

How Can They Eradicate the Pest?

Unfortunately many of the means discussed to eradicate the poison Cane Toad would kill other existing life in Australia. The Cane Toad is already doing a pretty good job of that, so the problem remains, how can Australia rid itself of this pest?

Professor Rick Shine holds out some hope though in that sometimes the male drowns the female when copulating in the water, and that the adult toads are feeding off their young.

Sydney University scientists discovered something quite unusual while studying toads in captivity. They witnessed the adult Cane toad wiggling its toes around the young toads. As they wiggled their toes they must have appeared like insects. This lured the younger ones to hop forward and become a meal for the older ones. This cannibalistic tendency might be the only thing to save Australia from disaster.

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15 Responses to “Australia’s Worst Environmental Disaster”
  1. nobert soloria bermosa Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 5:17 am

    very interesting, my first time to hear about frogs becoming environmental disaster,thanks Judy

  2. Judy Sheldon Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Nobert, thanks for reading. This toad sounds a little scary to me.

  3. BC Doan Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 6:27 am

    This is a great article, and full of information, Judy


  4. swapna Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 8:33 am

    very interesting…..thanks for sharing….

  5. CHAN LEE PENG Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Thanks for your hard work, sister!

  6. Judy Sheldon Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Icy (BC), Swapna, and Chan, thank you so much for your support.

    Take care & God bless.

  7. neelam pandey Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    very interesting article…but scary as well…thanks for sharing!!

  8. Judy Sheldon Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Neelam, thanks for your support.

  9. valli Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm


  10. Judy Sheldon Says...

    On September 8, 2008 at 9:02 pm

    Valli, thanks for reading.

  11. Anne Lyken-Garner Says...

    On September 10, 2008 at 6:01 am

    Judy,this is a fabulous piece. This species introduction has been done before, (both by chance and deliberately) with devastating effects.

    When will the human race ever learn.

    Well written.

  12. Judy Sheldon Says...

    On September 10, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Thank you, Anne, for your kind words.

  13. Banana Le Says...

    On November 18, 2008 at 2:52 am

    this sucks

  14. Koester Moeller Says...

    On December 23, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Nature provides friends and foes, one should be careful if one tries to manipulate it. Very informative article.

  15. Adam Says...

    On April 20, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Thank you Judy, now I know a cheaper way to get high. :)

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