Brisbane researchers have designed a powerful bait trap to help eradicate amphibian pests. Among the most notorious pest in most parts of Queensland and Southern Australia is the cane toad. These are poisonous pests, known to cause death of pets such as dogs, cats and other native animals as they try to eat the large toads. Sometimes their venom causes serious medical conditions, or death in humans. Over the years, researchers have been trying to come up with measures to eradicate these pests, but most of them have failed badly.
Cane Toad Venom Against Amphibian Pests
A group of researchers in Brisbane are making use of the poison taken from Queensland’s most destructive pest, the cane toad, and turning it against them. The experts are designing specialised traps that will make use of cane toad venom to reduce their population and possibly eradicate them once and for all. The trap uses bait made from the adult cane toad’s poison to capture and eradicate juvenile toads. The trap has a capability of capturing 10,000 juvenile toads in one hit.
The trap has been developed by researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) at St Lucia and is currently being trialled around the state. If the trap is a success, it will be a ground breaking innovation that will see the population of cane toads eradicated once and for all. If successful, the researchers hope to have it supplied to supermarkets across the entire state, and everywhere cane toads are a problem.
How the Trap Works
According to Professor Rob Capon, one of the team members, the traps mostly rely on the community and volunteers capturing and sending the adult toads to make specialised baits. “The community out there catches adult toads, and we can direct them from the landfill into the lab where we extract venom to get the chemical we need for the bait,” he added. “All we need is to isolate the toxin from the pest and apply it on the small ceramic cube to make the bait. We then put the bait in the trap, and the tadpole will swim in thinking that it’s ‘food,’ and of course there’s not and they are stuck,” he added.
The tadpoles will keep getting into the trap, but there is no way out. What makes the trap exceptional is the fact that you can trap up to 10,000 tadpoles in one hit. The trap is reusable, only needing to remove the trapped tadpoles and re-bait. “We are hoping to have the product on the shelves in hardware stores in a few years, but in the meantime, we are testing the reliability of the trap,” Mr Capon said.
The trap will definitely be one of the most effective methods of eradicating the cane toad population in Queensland and Australia. Capturing such huge numbers of tadpoles in a single hit will be a huge success in the eradication campaign. With the number of juvenile toads reduced, the population will either go down or remain constant and at a manageable level. If the number of adult toads dying is higher than that of surviving young toads, then the pest will be eradicated in years to come.
The eradication of the toad will give native wildlife and pets such as cats and dogs across Queensland a chance. It will reduce competition for food, and this will definitely have an impact on the entire ecosystem across this region. We will keep watch of the development in this project and keep you updated.