To Fight Croc-Killing Toads, Australians Turn to "Cane Toad Golf"

By Nina Bai | November 20, 2008 1:08 pm

toadRemember the doomed, cane-toad-eating crocodiles? Well they’re still eating, and dying: A new report suggests that as much as 77 percent of the crocodile population along the Victoria River has now perished from toad poisoning.

In yet another example of the “solution to one problem becomes an even bigger problem” doctrine, cane toads were purposely introduced to the region as a pest-control measure for beetles in the sugar cane fields. But sure enough, the toads soon became pests themselves, to the point where volunteer groups are trying to stop the toads’ spread across the continent.

One community has been promoting “cane toad golf”—basically whacking the toads with golf clubs. A more humane way, experts suggest, is to put the toads in the fridge until they’re numb and then transfer them to the freezer to kill them.

The toads are especially afraid of the cold and pretty much stop moving below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Though, of course, would you really want one of these warty things in your fridge?

Related Content:
Disco: Crocs Chow Down on Invasive Toads, Instantly Regret It
80beats: What Can Stop the Cane Toad’s Onslaught in Australia? A Cold Snap

Image: flickr / Michael Henderson

  • Carole McIntyre

    With all due respect, how many people or large herbivores have ever been eaten by cane toads? If I had to pick between having crocs or cane toads, I think I’d opt for the toads.

  • Ralph Smith

    I completely fail to see how anyone could consider a slow, probably agonizing death by refrigeration to be more humane than a quick whack to the head with a golf club (or any other club for that matter). I also expected that Aussies would by now, after so many other failed introductions of foreign biota to their shores, look at all possible ramifications of bringing in new species of any kind. I foresee other sporting uses for these toads, too. How about using them in place of clay pigeons on the skeet-shooting ranges?

  • Hans-J Tharra

    The most economical way to solve the problem would be the use of outdoor backpack leaf suction machines that do not mulch like the SANLI or HUSQVARNA machines. The bags with the collected toads should be dumped into carbon monoxide filled containers and buried afterwards. Carbon monoxide is effectively used in abbatoires worldwide and kills within seconds. This solution is cheap, fast, effective, can be used everywhere and causes minimum stress to the toads. Carbon monoxide containers could be mounted on quads and make the suction units highly mobile and easy to use in any kind of terrain.

  • Toad Golfer

    Freeze the Toads???? Hmmmmmm. I live in a part of the world where it gets to -40c in winter. We have toads and frogs that survive freezing in the winter. (The kind that don’t fly south for the winter.)
    They seem to survive quite well year after year. Who are these idiots saying to freeze them. PETA no doubt. I am for letting the croc’s eat a few, and a bit of toad golf would be great exercise for everyone involved. The whole family can play together.

  • Bonsai King

    I am a naturalist. Let Nature heal itself. The more we intervene, the worse it will get. Nature has a way of balancing everything. For the moment, the cane toad will overpopulate and become pests, new niches and opportunities and other species will develop to occupy the niches. Other species will find ways to take advantage of the cane toad boom. Competition for resources would limit further explosion of toads. Predators, immune to the poison will spring forth, by natural selection. The crocs will not be wiped out, they need only a few to survive until everything stabilizes, and repopulate. These events are very complex to fathom or simulate in a computer. So let it be . . .

  • Oren Nimelman

    With regards to Bonsai King;

    Much as I’m sure your heart is in the right place, blind faith in some sort of magical ecological karma is insipid.

    It’s true that nature would reach an equilibrium on its own if left undisturbed. The issue is that this normally occurs over long periods of time, where a species’ phenotype either adapts or dies off. When a new species is introduced by people, native species – unaccustomed to the poisons or predations of the newcomer – often die out before there is time to adapt. Take, for example, the effects of early Man’s swift spread (by evolutionary standards) across the globe. There have been many cases of native species, unadapted to hunting humans, dying out before having a chance to evolve new behaviours or defenses.

    And while “only a few” crocs can breed, a narrowing of species’ gene pool can often have cataclysmic effects. A reduction in genetic diversity could, for example, affect crocodiles’ ability to resist new diseases.

  • Oren Nimelman

    Also, cane toad golf sounds like fun.

  • Pancake those Toads!

    I remember viewing a documentary about a particular Asian country’s fly infestion. It possibly occurred in either Singapore or Hong Kong, I don’t rememeber as it was some time ago. The population of flies had risen dramatically over the past decades due to the explosion of humans and their devastating impact on the natural predators of said flies. Apart from being a pest, the flies were spreading life threatening diseases in the humid, overpopulated cities. The government responded by issuing a proclamation that all people were expected to kill 100 flies per day and present the results to a local police station. Within a year, the fly population was reduced to managable and reasonable numbers. A round of golf, anyone?

  • pepz

    i am 15 and freezing them is boooorin i go for a laugh with my m8s at night killing them but we dont burn ther eyes out we just whack them (hard) over the head….. the worst thing we did was get a siringe of dettol and injected them lollololololololol

  • Brian Too

    I can’t get over how these things can kill a crocodile. I thought a croc could eat (and happily digest) just about anything they could swallow. I mean, crocs eat rotting carcasses!


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