Cane Toad Removal Methods
Dog owners are often confused on the best method of cane toad removal. In this article we discuss the various pros and cons of each method so that you can make an informed decision when it comes to protecting your property. Over the years we have tested every method available and based our business around the results. Below we have ranked the various remove methods from best to worst.
To the dismay of many residents, getting upfront and personal with the cane toads on a routine basis is the most thorough way of curbing their population. By taking an active role in their removal you can seek out toads that otherwise would be missed. Many of the other methods rely on the toad behaving the way you want, but hand trapping shifts the power back into... well, your hands. We have often times been called out to a residence because they have seen a toad, only to find 20+ on their property. Trapping by hand allows you to keep an eye on the true toad population and monitor the progress made. To put a real dent in the cane toad population you also need to monitor the waterways. Trapping eggs and tadpoles by hand is the most effective way of getting each and every last toad. Additionally, hand removal of the young prevents unintentional removal of native species.
The biggest downside to hand removal is that it requires a consistent routine which involves time and effort by the resident. Adult cane toads are most active at night, a time when most people would rather relax and be with their friends/family than looking for these ugly stinkers. Additionally there is the question of disposal, what will you do when a toad is found? If you are on a budget and have the time, doing hand removal by yourself is the ticket. At Treks we prescribe to the hand removal method, it is labor intensive but the job gets done right. It is the only method where we found a sustained or elimination of toads. There is no substitute for a well trained hand trapper and we consider it to be the gold standard.
There are a few commercially available traps on the market which are designed to catch both adult toads and their tadpoles. Some of them are nothing more than rebranded rat traps, while others have been purposefully designed to trap cane toads. Generally speaking the toad traps revolve around a repeating "finger-gate" system and relies on the toads natural instinct to hide during the day. The great thing about these traps is that they are affordable and work 24/7. Once a toad enters, it cannot leave and will wait for the resident or trapper to take care of disposal.
Traps sound really great on paper, so we designed an advanced system that emitted UV light at night to attract bugs, which inturn would attract the toads. Our traps had shade, a water source and some even had an acoustic lure to get the toad's attention.
But when it came to field testing, they fell short in every way other than convenience. To test the efficacy of the traps we left them out for a week at residential properties and then performed a hand removal on the seventh night. It was far too common to catch 1-3 toads in the trap, but then to remove another 15+ by hand. That being said, traps do have their place in cane toad removal. They are most certainly better than doing nothing and if time or budget are a constraint, they may be the perfect solution. Additionally traps can be a great solution for areas that only have a few toads present. Personally we decided not to take our traps to market and instead shifted focus to perfecting hand catching techniques.
At the bottom of our list we have topical products that are applied to the ground. Some are intended to kill the insects that cane toads eat while others mean to establish a homeopathic invisible barrier for the toad. The issue we find is that neither does the job well. Cane toads are perfectly happy to sit underneath an overhead light and eat the insects that fly by. They are veracious eaters and have been known to eat things otherwise considered inedible, like dog poop. The homeopathic invisible barrier products, even when properly applied are akin to an electric dog fence. It may keep the dog from crossing the line for a little bit, but wave a steak in their face and all bets are off. These products tend to be expensive as they need to be reapplied and perhaps most importantly, they do almost nothing to reduce the cane toad population. With an average female producing 30,000 to 60,000 eggs a year, physical removal of the cane toads should be paramount in your strategy.