Cane Toads


A heartfelt cry from the Kununurra Community to the Nation.


Website constructed by Dean Goodgame of Kimberley Specialists in Research Inc.



The aim of this website is to document the Kimberley Toad Busters fight to stop the cane toad and to provide the Western Australian Community some understanding of the enormous efforts (and contributions) that can be made by unpaid volunteers!




Kimberley Toad Busters

Training and Safety Manual

Become a responsible participant in the fight against the Cane Toad invasion

Toad Busting Field Safety Instructions

Cane Toads are generally not poisonous or dangerous to handle. However, avoid any contact with the poison, which is exuded from the parotid gland behind their ears. The poison is only exuded by the toad when acutely stressed and it occasionally oozes from these glands. Hands should be washed thoroughly after contact with the toads and it is preferable to wear gloves whilst catching or handling toads. Apart from the poison they can also carry salmonella and other harmful bacteria. Salmonella can be fatal.

The poison also causes severe pain and possible permanent damage to your eyes. Any contact to your eyes must be irrigated out with water immediately and seek medical advise. We believe the poison is active for up to 36 hrs.

Use strong thick plastic bags to collect toads that are hand caught in the field. A rubbish bin with a central hole cut in the lid is a good receptacle for holding the toads in vehicles.


Eggs, tadpoles and small metamorphs can be scooped up from water bodies and left to dry on dry land.

Humane disposal of the cane toad can be achieved in the following ways:

Cane toads can be frozen overnight and then buried, or Cane Toads can be placed in a strong well sealed plastic bag and gassed with CO2. After 30 minutes the cane toad can be removed and buried.


Bury in a one meter deep hole, place rocks over the toads before shovelling the soil over them. Rocks will help to stop any native wildlife from digging the carcasses up.


It is important to watch for other wildlife and feral animals that pose a safety risk to toad busters. Cane toad habitats are also snake and crocodile habitats. When toad busting always wear suitable clothing, closed in footwear and carry the required safety equipment. At night use a strong light that lights up water bodies and shows the eyes of crocodiles. Crocs’ eyes are bright red in reflective colour. Never “bust” alone.

Team Leaders Check List

Team Leaders must be dressed appropriately and carry:

Satellite phone and UHF hand held radios

First aid kit with snake bites bandages and eye wash solution

GPS, Compass and whistle

Group sunburn cream and insect repellent

Spare toad catching gloves

Strobe light and rescue blanket

Strong spotlight and spare torch and batteries

Each Team Leader will nominate a “Back up Charlie” or 2IC who will also carry their own issued UHF hand held radio and assist the Team Leader.

Toad Busters Check List

Every toad buster must wear a safety vest and carry a whistle

Have a companion and must be part of a team

Full water bottle and drink water often to prevent hydration

Closed in footwear – recommended to be water resistant

Sun protection cream and broad brimmed hat if working during day

Head fly net and insect repellent

Good head torch and spare torch and batteries

A fine meshed net for tadpoles and toads in the water - if applicable

Garden gloves and disposable gloves for picking up toads

Strong plastic bags to collect the toads

Recommended light weight long sleeve shirt and long trousers or gaiters

Be totally aware of your groups’ strategy in collecting eggs, tadpoles, trapping, monitoring and recording of that information.

Note: If anyone at any time loses sight of their companion or the toad busting team, move away from the waters edge and remain stationary. Blow your whistle three times at regular intervals - until found.

Searchers will be blowing their whistle only once at regular intervals while searching for you. Also flash your torch light three times in all directions periodically. Yell out “Coo-Eee” if you have lost your whistle.

It is important to know who your partners are (and their names) on either side of you and to always be on the look out for the presence of buffalo, cattle, wild pigs, crocodiles and snakes. These are all dangerous.

Duties of a Team Leader

Team Leader s objective is to co-ordinate their Toad Busting teams’ effort to catch and safely remove toads from our environment.

Team Leaders are ultimately responsible for the safety and well being of ALL team members whilst in their bush locations “Busting”.

ResponsibilitiesofTeam Leadersare:

Be physically fit to undertake the roll of a Team Leader

Be qualified in Senior First Aid and Bush Survival

Conduct an Induction Sessionfor all new busters

Brief all “Busters” of their code of ethics in humane catching, handling, transporting and disposal of caught toads

Define the areas of catching for the team and the boundary limits

Explain to the group their emergency signals and procedures

Have a complete list of names of all team members and note any special medical alerts or concerns

Issue of all safety gear and check all catchers are appropriately attired and have the minimum requirement of equipment defined by the guidelines

Report all mishaps, incidents and injuries to the supervisors immediately.

Any sensitive information relayed by Sat phone all others via UHF radio

Brief all catchers of local hazards and perceived dangers from wild or native animals. And the ways to prevent heat exhaustion and dehydration

Radio to supervisors on regular time interval of the teams’ health and progress

Keep a constant visual on ALL team members at all times as well as looking for hazards and dangerous animals. Team Leaders do not catch toads



How to identify a cane toad in every phase of its life cycle.

If uncertain whether you have picked up a cane toad or not check with you team leader before bagging.

Female Toad showing eye, ear and the poison gland just above the front leg.

The tiny pin prick holes generally only ooze the white coloured poison, but if pressed at the wrong point the poison will ‘spurt’ up to a metr and half away. Notice the lack of webbing or suckers on the front toes.

Cane toad eggs are generally found in long strands attached or hanging over grass of other debris near the waters edge. These can be removed from the water by hand.


Juvenile about 2cm in size. Notice the distinctive white line along its back. This appears to be more dominant in the male juvenile. Juveniles have all the characteristic mannerisms of their adult parents.

Toxin oozing from glands on male toad.
Typical cane toad stance. Note the ‘warty’ texture of the male toad.


‘Amplexing toads. Males are generally 2-3 cm smaller then the female. Note the position of the male fingers below the poison glands. This grip is difficult to break and allows the male to ‘hang’ on until the female releases her eggs.   Disposal of toad: Burying is the only safe way as it prevents native wildlife from preying on the carcasses and until we really know how long the toxin in the glands survives is the only safe way of disposing of dead toads.


Note the lack of webbing between the toes and the absence of suckers. Both characteristics of the native frog species.   Note the toxin glands, the ear between the glands and the eye and the’ bony’ ridge above the eye.


Cane toad tadpoles are always black to dark brown and have very thin short tails Once the tadpoles begin to drop their tails they adopt an upright stance similar to their adult parents...



Station Protocol:

Access to Station country is by courtesy of the owners and managers. Station Protocol must be obeyed at all times.

Permission by KTBs to toad bust on any station area must have prior approval of access.

Approval of access to any station area will be undertaken by the Field Coordinator Lee Scott-Virtue or other designated KTB Leaders elected by the Field Coordinator.

Prior Approval will establish whether quad bikes can be used or vehicle access is permitted. Or whether any other activity (aerial/boat reconnaissance) associated with KTB toad busting strategy has been approved.

Ronnie Atkins is the KTB elected Station Protocol Trainer and Advisor. All toad busters ‘busting’ on station country must be approved by Ronnie (or her designated counterpart).

Insurance on station country will not cover individuals that have not been signed off by Ronnie Atkins.

All KTB volunteers entering private station country must carry their KTB identification.

Drive slowly and carefully on all station roads and be aware that dirt road conditions may change very quickly if unexpected rain occurs. If there is any indication that vehicle access by KTBs is going to impact on the conditions of the road access to the nominated toad busting area (previously approved by the station owner) must be reassessed.


 Basic rules:

  Check in at the station prior to toadbusting in any area.

  If a gate is closed, close it.

  If a gate is open leave it open.

  Do not camp near cattle water troughs, Turkey nests or any other area that is obviously a watering area for station cattle.

 Do not interfere with water pumps or touch any station equipment.

 Report to the station any obvious (out of the ordinary) problems that might impact on station activities (fire, downed fences, cattle in distress etc).

Ensure any camp fire is safe and ‘doused’ with water prior to leaving.

 Take all rubbish.

  No arms or other weapons to be taken onto the station.

  No other KTB activity is undertaken other than ‘toad busting’ for the duration any KTB representative is present on the station.