Backyard weed-killer can ‘supercharge’ cane toads. Picture: Evan Morgan
Backyard weed-killer can ‘supercharge’ cane toads. Picture: Evan Morgan

Weed-killer can 'super-charge' cane toads

A COMMON household weed-killer has been found to supercharge cane toads, stimulating them to produce more venom.

Hungarian researchers have discovered that toad tadpoles, when exposed to glyphosate - also known as Round-Up - produces an unexpected side effect when the amphibians turn into adults.

The new study, published this week, found that exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides, the most widespread agriculture chemicals worldwide, stimulated the production of bufadienolides - the main compounds of chemical defence in toads.

The researchers say that in Australia, this could make the cane toad even more deadly to its predators.

Cane toads use the venom glands on their back to produce copious amounts of venom, to ward off any predators.

This adaptation has helped the invasive species conquer much of the Australian continent, after they were initially released on a property near Gordonvale in 1935.

Frog Safe Inc co-ordinator Deborah Pergolotti, who has previously spoken out about the use of glyphosate, said the study merely gave another reason why the chemical should not be used in backyards.

"There are many reason not to use Round-Up, which not only does damage to frogs, it does damage to the human gut," she said.

"It's a systemic chemical, which means that it will get around to a lot of things.

"This chemical is taken up by the whole plant, so any pollen, nectar, flowers or fruit that that plant will produce will have the chemical in those things."

Round-Up - produces an unexpected side effect when the amphibians turn into adults.
Round-Up - produces an unexpected side effect when the amphibians turn into adults.

According to the RSPCA, there is three methods that are "conditionally acceptable" for disposing of cane toads.

This includes spraying with anti-toad repellent Hopstop; stunning followed by decapitation; and prolonged exposure to carbon dioxide.

Ms Pergolotti said toad populations were declining in Far North Queensland, but if people wanted to further reduce their numbers, they should use the refrigerator method.

"If you're going to get rid of them, we still recommend that they be put into containers with holes," she said.

"You put the container in the fridge overnight - not the freezer - and then move them to the freezer the next morning.

"We do not recommend chemical approaches to getting rid of toads."

News Corp Australia


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