How to Get Rid of Cane Toads

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When it comes to Cane Toads, they are invasive species in Florida, Australia, and other parts of the world. You might have a difficult time with them hopping around your yard posing threats to your children and pets.

You can get rid of Cane Toads, or Bufo marinus, by capturing, releasing and preventing their return. Some jurisdictions may recommend killing them following strict procedures. It is key to call your local Wildlife Department for location-specific instructions on relocating or killing Cane Toads.

This article will cover everything there is to know about Cane Toads and things you can do to get rid of them.

1. Ensure You Have Cane Toads in Your Yard

Cane Toads are often confused with other species in locations where many toads are present like in Florida. If you are in Australia, this should not be a problem since Cane Toads are the only toad species on the island. 

Cane Toads have the following distinct features:

  • Bony ridges right above their eyes
  • Large glands behind their eyes
  • Their feet are not webbed
  • They have dry warty skin
  • They can be brown, russet, yellow, and olive-brown

2. Call Your Local Wildlife Department For Support

For tailored support be sure to call your local wildlife department for more information. Here are the numbers you can call to confirm you have Cane Toads and to find out what you should do with them in your jurisdiction:

NameLocationPhone
U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceUSA1‑800‑344‑WILD
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & AttractionsAustralia(08) 9219 9000

3. Capture The Cane Toads

Use a net and wear gloves to capture Cane Toads to avoid harming them and yourself since Cane Toads are poisonous. 

  1. Make sure any pets including cats or dogs are inside before getting started
  2. Use a tightly knit net to scoop up the toad
  3. Release the toad at the opposite end of your yard 
  4. Chose a shaded, safe area to leave the toad, far away from predators

In the video above I show how to capture an American Toad from a window well. Those toads are not as dangerous as Cane Toads so be sure to take extra precautions when handling that species. Also, make sure your pets are not outside because they are predators to toads and risk getting very sick if they eat them intentionally or unintentionally which could be detrimental to their health.

Learn more about how to safely capture frogs in this guide on our blog (CTNF).

4. Relocate or Kill Them Depending on Local Laws

Follow local laws and processes recommended by a qualified professional (such as from your local Wildlife Department) to know if or how you should relocate or kill Cane Toads. One way that may be accepted in your area is putting them in a fridge and then freezing them. 

Research has shown that Cane Toads feel pain and that one of the most ethical ways of killing them is by freezing. Toads slow down and become lethargic when temperatures are below 32°F (0°C) and die frozen after 30 to 45 minutes in temperatures below 23°F (-5°C).

Place the Cane Toad into a cooler or a fridge that remains at least below 32°F (0°C) to make them inactive and help prepare them to be deep-frozen. Then transfer them to a deep freezer and they will be killed after about 30 to 45 minutes. 

However, be sure to check with your State Wildlife Department before freezing toads while hunting since it may not be authorized in some locations.

Learn more about how to safely relocate frogs in this guide on our blog.

5. Prevent Cane Toads From Coming Back

You can stop Cane Toads from entering your backyard or garden by putting up a tight, smooth, solid fence around your yard that is at least 50cm (20 inches) above and below ground since they cannot climb that high and should not dig further than 50cm.

Also, be sure to get rid of the following things that can attract them to your yard:

  • Pet food
  • Compost
  • Garbage
  • Standing Water
  • Pet water bowls
  • Lights at night
  • Piles of leaves
  • Tarps
  • Humidity-retaining structures

Learn how to toad-proof your yard in this dedicated guide on our blog.

Can a Cane Toads Kill a Human?

Cane Toads are known for being toxic right from the beginning of life. Anything that consumes a Cane Toad can be poisoned and may die, which is why Cane Toads are having such a negative impact on Australia and Florida’s native wildlife. But are they dangerous to humans?

Cane Toads are highly toxic to humans and ingesting their poison can cause accelerated heartbeat, shortness of breath, and even death. Cane Toads can also carry diseases on their skin such as salmonella. If you think you ingested Cane Toad poison, seek professional help right away.

Learn more about the effects of Toad Poison in this article on our blog.

Where Are Cane Toads Located in Australia?

Cane Toads, or Bufo marinus, are the only type of toad found in Australia. While they originated in the southernmost part of the country, Cane Toads are beginning to move north and take up over 500,000 square kilometers from Queensland to northeast New South Wales and the Northern Territory. 

The Cane Toad was originally placed in the southernmost part of Australia to handle an increasingly hindering beetle population. It was also brought to Florida for the same reason, to eat the beetles killing Cane crops.

Baby Cane Toad

However, the Cane Toads didn’t stop there. Although the government tried to eradicate the Cane Toad, it grew in numbers and spread across the country. They have especially begun to take over the northern and western parts of Australia. Today, Cane Toads can be found in a span ranging over 500,000 square kilometers in Australia. They are nestled between areas such as Queensland, northwestern New South Wales, and the Northern Territory.

Cane Toads have also reached more ecologically sensitive areas, such as Kakadu National Park and Homebush Bay. Since Homebush Bay is the home to an endangered native frog species, it is an increasing worry for ecologists. 

Will the Cane Toad Presence Continue to Expand?

Researchers have estimated that the Cane Toad presence will continue to expand across Australia if the current global climate changes continue. Research suggests that these toads can easily find themselves in Sydney and Western Australia within the next 20 years.

Before 1935, there were no toad species in Australia. While there is a somewhat impressive frog population, toads were nowhere to be seen. That is until beetles started to harass the vegetation of Australian sugar canes in 1935. 

The government decided to bring Bufo marinus, which originated in Southern and Central America, into the country to deal with the immense beetle population. They assumed that the toads would take care of the beatles and that sugar canes could thrive once more.

The problem with this theory is that toads do not get very high off the ground. Since beetles would hide high up in the sugar canes, toads couldn’t reach them. The invasive, poisonous Cane Toads instead ate insects, frogs, and other accessible prey. In turn, would-be predators ended up dying. This plays a significant role in the ‘normal’ ecological system, causing a major problem in Australia and in Florida.

Are There Any Native Toads in Australia?

Surprisingly, there are no native toad species in Australia. Although being a heavily diverse area for amphibians and other creatures, Australia would be a toad-free country if Cane Toads had not been released into the area in the 1930s.

Originally, Cane Toads were introduced to Australia to deal with the manifesting beetle situation destroying sugar cane crops. The initial release included 3,000 Cane Toads. However, since Cane Toads were not common in the area, they had to learn to acclimate to their new environment. 

Since they became acclimated to the climate and found a food source, Cane Toads began to expand. Today, there is a Cane Toad population that reaches millions in Australia, because Cane Toads can lay up to 30,000 eggs twice a year.

Learn more about Cane Toads in this article on our blog.

More About Getting Rid of Cane Toads

Australia did not have a toad species until 1935 when the Cane Toad was introduced to battle the beetle problem. However, they did not help the sugar cane crops. Instead, they became an invasive amphibian that can now be found over 500,000 square kilometers throughout the southern areas of Australia. They are migrating to northern areas now, too. 

Here are more resources that can help you get rid of Cane Toads and frogs in your yard:

Sources

Overstaying Their Welcome: Cane Toads in Australia, Tina Butler, mongabay.com, April 17, 2005

Shine, Richard & Amiel, Joshua & Munn, Adam & Stewart, Mathew & Vyssotski, Alexei & Lesku, John. (2015). Is ” cooling then freezing ” a humane way to kill amphibians and reptiles?. Biology Open. 4. 10.1242/bio.012179.

About The Author
Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.