Toad Sausages now on menu

Thu 18 Feb 

Toad Sausages now on menu

By Roy Weavers

According to a report in SMH this week Cane toad sausages have been developed by scientists in an effort to help save native wildlife from this introduced nocxious killer.


Sydney scientists have been feeding toad sausages mixed with a mild chemical that induces nausea, to several endangered animals to try to train them to avoid eating the toads in the wild.


Rick Shine, of the University of Sydney, said most animals learnt pretty quickly not to eat the highly poisonous amphibians. But bigger predators such as quolls, goannas and snakes could not resist a tasty toad, which had devasted some local populations of these species, in some cases to near localised extinction. The problem is that the toads toxin doesn't make the toad taste unpalatable but once eaten the toxin stops their heart resulting in most cases in death.


Professor Shine and his team put forward the tehory that if they could train vulnerable animals that toads taste bad, and associate them ''with feeling nauseous and miserable'', they may well learn to avoid them. This is based on the human trait of overindulgence leading to never wanting to repeat the effect.


Professor Shine said the same phenomenon, known as taste-aversion, could affect other animals.


An honours student, Stephanie O'Donnell, fed captive-bred quolls dead baby cane toads laced with a tasteless, low toxicity chemical. When released in the Northern Territory the quolls avoided the toads and survived.


Editors Comment: I'm not sure I'd want to include these snags in my big Aussie brekky but if this innovative approach works on ridding us of these distructive pests then please start distributing the sausages and we'll invite our backyard Cane Toads to their very own BBQ.