Why are toads in Byron Shire?
Cane toads were introduced to Australia in North Queensland in 1935 to control cane beetles. Because toads can lay up to 35 000 eggs per breeding season the toad populations increased rapidly. The large population also spread quickly, including moving south along the coast. However the first toads in Byron Shire were not from the northern migration.
Cane toads were introduced to Byron Bay between 1964 and 1966, supposedly to control garden insects. The toads moved throughout the shire at an average rate of 1.07 km per year. The toads moving down from Queensland through the Tweed Shire arrived in the north of the shire in the late 1970’s.
What problems do cane toads cause?
Cane toads pose a real threat to native wildlife, and are listed as a Key Threatening Process under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and need to be controlled.
Cane toads are a threat to our native wildlife in three ways:
- Cane toads are poisonous at all stages of life from eggs to adults. Toads have had a severe impact on snakes, lizards and other native animals that try to feed on the toads.
- Cane toads eat very large quantities of prey. The main dietary items consumed by cane toads are insects and this includes rainforest snails and many ground beetles. A toad in Whian Whian was found to have eaten 24 rainforest snails and another juvenile toad had eaten 270 flying ants in one evening. Toads also occasionally eat vertebrates such as ground nesting hatchlings and eggs, frogs and even small mammals.
- Cane toads compete with native animals for food and habitat.
Cane toads are poisonous to pets and many pet dogs have been killed by ingesting toads. The poison also affects humans and there have been injuries to eyes when people hit toads causing poison to squirt into their eyes.
What can you do to help control cane toads?
- Toad proof your dam or ponds.
- Notify council if you see tadpoles or toad eggs on public sites
- Learn how to identify toads correctly and then catch toads and collect toad eggs on your own property.
- Join a toad muster group.
- Keep pet food and water out of reach of cane toads.
- Keep food scrapes out of reach of cane toads.
- Plant native gardens rather than short mown lawns because toads prefer short grass.
- Turn off outside lights when not in use as toads congregate under lamps to eat insects attracted to the light.