Vet’s dire warning for cane toad plague
THE Gold Coast is experiencing a plague of baby cane toads after recent wet weather has provided the perfect hatching conditions for the known pests.
But without eradication programs like the Gold Coast Catchment Association Cane Toad Challenge, there would be an infestation of epic proportions if these baby toads reach maturity.
While the exact number is unable to be quantified, locals are being asked to help prevent a potential toad plague.
Emily Vincent, Project Officer at the Gold Coast Catchment Association said toads posed a serious threat to pets wildlife, pets and agriculture both through their ability to rapidly reproduce and by possessing a deadly toxin in the glands on their backs that will kill anything that comes into contact with it.
"Toads are even toxic after death, so discarded toad bodies still present a significant threat to animals," she said.
To help eradicate the baby toads, who are the "most difficult to manage", Ms Vincent suggests collecting them in a bucket or net or pitfall trapping before refrigerating them first before freezing them.
"Toads that are frozen instantly can come back to life once they defrost, believe me, I have seen it," she said.
"Refrigerating them beforehand ensures they slip into a coma preventing their resurrection, it is also much more humane.
"Other methods of killing such as hitting, whacking, smashing, crushing and decapitating leave poisonous cane toad residue on the ground for pets and wildlife to find.
"Many hit them with golf clubs which rarely kills them, they are very hardy. They will be back."
The sheer numbers of toads has prompted local vets to warn pet owners to be extra vigilant to the signs and symptoms of poisoning, especially in curious dogs who love to inspect - and sometimes try to taste - the creatures.
Dr Kevin Cruickshank from the Gold Coast Vet Surgery at Surfers Paradise said dogs could be poisoned by toads by licking them, holding them in their mouths or by eating them.
"The symptoms include severe irritation in the mouth, pawing, salivating, agitation, then as poison is absorbed can have vomiting, trembling, seizures or complete collapse," he said.
"First aid is very thorough rinsing of their mouths, wiping their gums and inside of cheeks with a wet cloth repeatedly.
"They need immediate vet attention as poison affects both nervous system causing seizures and the heart which causes collapse and extremely fast and irregular heart rate."
He said tips to ensure the safety of pets was to supervise pets toilet breaks, and "toad-proofing" yards by getting rid of un-used water sources, and turning off lights that attract insects."
The Gold Coast Catchment Association Cane Toad Challenge is a revolutionary method of cane toad control that uses the toads' own toxins against them.
Hundreds of members and volunteers in the Gold Coast region are taking action against the cane toad plague by signing up which involves collecting adult cane toads and the trapping of tadpoles in tadpole traps using baits made from cane toad glands.
Members are asked to donate all their frozen toads to the Gold Coast Catchment Association who cut out their poisonous glands and send them to the University of Queensland for bait production.
Visit goldcoastcatchments.org for more info.