The annual hunt for a poisonous giant toad begins again in Australia this weekend. There is currently no cure for the “Cane Toads”, as they are called in English, which originally come from South America. There have been nocturnal toad collection tours for years with the aim of eliminating as many of the warty frogs as possible. Reason: They reproduce extremely quickly and pose a massive threat to the local wildlife. From January 13th to 21st it's that time again: The nature conservation organization Watergum has called on Australians to take part in the large-scale hunt in as many numbers as possible.
Cane toads (scientifically Bufo marinus) originally come from South America. They were introduced to Australia in 1935 with the idea of using them as pest controllers in sugar cane plantations. But the project backfired badly: the animals multiplied massively and became a plague. They are omnivores and will attack anything they can fit into their mouths. They are mostly active at night. Because many Australian animals have no resistance to the toads' venom, some mammals, snakes and reptiles are critically endangered because of the invasion.
According to hunt organizer Watergum, the toads live to be around ten years old. Females can produce up to 35,000 eggs with each brood. At least 200 million of the creatures now populate the country. “This means that every cane toad removed really counts!” emphasize the conservationists. The animals have spread from the state of Queensland to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and along the northeast coast of New South Wales, according to the New South Wales government's "Cane Toad Control Handbook".
Humane killing in the refrigerator
The hunt is full of action and great fun, says Watergum. But it is important to kill the animals in a “humane way”. There are numerous instructions for this on the Internet. "Cane toads deserve to be treated kindly and humanely; after all, it's not their fault they're on the wrong continent," Watergum writes on its website.
The best method is to place a container with the toads in a refrigerator for 24 hours. "During this cooling period, the toads peacefully fall into torpor, a semi-comatose state similar to hibernation." They would then no longer feel pain. The toads are then put in a freezer for another 24 hours and die. Immediate freezing without prior cooling could cause significant pain for the animals, the organization warns.