Cane toad eggs in their slimy casing.
Cane toad eggs in their slimy casing.

INVASION: Slimy, alien-like and hiding in our waterways

THEY'RE slimy and ugly, and resemble tiny little "alien eggs" and a local landcare group has removed nearly 21,000 of their spawn from the Lower Clarence in the last month.

They are cane toad eggs, and the Clarence Valley Conservation in Action group is calling on local residents and landowners are being asked to keep their eyes on dams, ponds and water features for signs of toad breeding.

"Female toads have been reported to lay up to 30,000 eggs in a single spawning event and it doesn't take long to realise how big a problem this could become if the breeding and toad tadpoles are not controlled effectively," said CVCIA toading coordinator Scott Lenton.

The cane toad eggs are very distinguishable and are laid in long strands that resemble shoelaces and the eggs are typically anchored to aquatic vegetation in shallow water, however tadpoles hatch after only 2-3 days after the eggs are laid so when toad spawn or eggs are found it is important to remove them from the water using a net or scoop as soon as possible.

 

ABOVE: A close up of the 9650-strong brick of jet black toad tadpoles following their capture in January in the Lower Clarence.
ABOVE: A close up of the 9650-strong brick of jet black toad tadpoles following their capture in January in the Lower Clarence.

The tadpoles grow quickly and develop legs ready for leaving the water as metamorphs over a period of three weeks or so and this period the tadpoles remain in the water provides a good opportunity to collect them using nets or tadpole traps as the jet black tadpoles cluster in tight schools close to the waters edge whilst feeding vigourosly.

"Apart from their jet black colour and clustering habit, toad tadpoles differ from native frog tadpoles in that the toad tadpoles mature with legs when the main body is less than one centimetre in length, although their very black colour and schooling habit are the best indicators you've found toad tadpoles," Mr Lenton said.

Landowners and residents in the Lower Clarence are being asked to check any dams, garden ponds or water features on their land every week or two for toad eggs, tadpoles or metamorphs that have recently emerged and are concentrated around the waters edge.

Any finds should be reported to the the CVCIA website, CVCIA Landcare Facebook page, or contact Scott Lenton on email scott@cvcia.org.au or phone 0438430234.

Cane Toad showing the distinctive bony M-shaped ridge across the front of the snout
Cane Toad showing the distinctive bony M-shaped ridge across the front of the snout Jeff Wright
AT A GLANCE   Native to South and mainland Central America, cane toads were introduced to Australia from Hawaii in June 1935 by the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, now the Sugar Research Australia in an attempt to control the native grey-backed cane beetle and Frenchi beetle. It is highly invasive and still actively spreading throughout northern and eastern Australia. Skin secretions are toxic to humans and other animals.  


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