Innovative Solution to a Major Threat: The Cane Toad Tadpole Trap and Lure

Cane toads are a major threat to biodiversity, to humans, other animals and the ecosystem that they live in. For many years, cane toads and their offsprings have been seen as a major pest in Darwin and the Northern Territory. 

As prolific breeders, each female can produce 35,000 eggs each time she reproduces. Wanting an effective and humane way to catch tadpoles, Watergum developed a world-first technology that targets the vulnerable tadpole phase of the breeding cycle, the Cane Toad Tadpole Trap and Lure.

Simply placed in a body of water (dams, streams, ponds and more), the Cane Toad Tadpole Trap and Lure is then used to attract the cane toad tadpoles by the active ingredient, pheromone, that creates a scent plume in the water that attracts the tadpoles. What is pheromone? A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. In the course of evolution, tadpoles have developed a unique adaptation – cannibalising other cane toad eggs. This behaviour serves as a strategic way for tadpoles to obtain nourishment, utilising the eggs as a valuable food source. By using the lure and the active pheromone ingredient, these attract the tadpoles into the Tadpole Trap.

Why is this solution so important?

  1. Toxins: Cane toads secrete a potent toxin from their parotoid glands located behind their eyes. This toxin can be harmful to pets, wildlife, and potentially humans if ingested or if it comes into contact with eyes, mouth, etc.. While the toxin itself isn’t water-soluble to a degree that it would typically contaminate large water bodies, there’s a potential risk in small, enclosed water sources such as backyard ponds where the toxin could accumulate if multiple toads are present.
  1. Water Quality: In areas where cane toads are abundant, their presence in and around water sources can affect water quality. The decomposition of dead toads or their droppings can lead to nutrient loading in the water, promoting algal blooms and reducing oxygen levels, which can harm the quality of water.
  1. Home Water Systems: Cane toads are unlikely to directly harm home water systems like plumbing or rainwater tanks. However, if they find their way into these systems, they can die and decompose, potentially causing foul smells and requiring cleaning or maintenance to remove the carcasses and any resulting debris.
  1. Pet and Livestock Safety: Cane toads can pose a significant risk to pets and livestock that might drink from contaminated water sources or try to consume the toads themselves. The toxins can cause serious illness or death in animals.

The Cane Toad Tadpole Trap and Lure is an environmentally friendly, humane solution. The lure is only attractive to cane toad tadpoles and has no impact on waterway health or native frog species. This innovative solutions is a game changer to managing and reducing the cane toad population in Darwin and the Northern Territory.