The cane toad is regarded as one of Australia’s most highly invasive and feral species. Native to central and south America, 3000 were released in 1935, onto sugar cane plantations. This occurred in hopes of devouring cane beetles that caused a lot of damage to the crops. This is one of Australia’s worst mistakes as these toads could not eat the beetles; they survived on the upper stalks of the cane; out of reach. Cane toads have become an issue by being both highly venomous and eating almost anything that fits in their mouths. This means that vulnerable animals that are native, are missing out on food and becoming endangered. Toads can produce up to 35000 eggs in one spawning, thus spreading through Australia at an alarming rate. (See figure 1 for diagram.)
Cane toads are distinguished by its light brown, dry warty skin. It has a bony ridge that meets at its nose and has a big black eye on either side of its head. Adult cane toads are equipped with parotoid glands behind their ear drums that squirt poison when pressured. (See figure 2 for diagram.) These are very dangerous as they can blind adults for several hours, fatal to pets and possibly young children.
Area’s Affected by Cane Toads
In 1935 Australia’s first cane toads were released in areas around Cairns, Gordonvale and Innisfail in northern Queensland. More toads were freed around Ingham, Ayr, Mackay and Bundaberg. Cane toads have spread rapidly through southern Queensland, New South Wales and up into Northern Territory. They have even been recently spotted along the border of Western Australia. (Refer back to figure 1)There are now numbers over 200 million in population and have been known to spread diseases distressing local biodiversity.
How and Why They Are Now a Problem
The invasion of cane toads in Australia shows that the government’s decisions aren’t always the right ones. They were not a solution to the spread cane beetles in the 1930’s because the beetles survived on...