Can You Kill Cane Toads With Salt?

People have long believed that salt can kill a cane toad, but researchers say that’s a myth.

It’s unclear how salt got a reputation as a toad deterrent, but “there’s probably a grain of truth there,” said Lee Fitch, an associate professor of wildlife ecology. “I think it’s more a question that if you put it on their back, they’re going to get irritated and jump away.” He added that this “makes sense intuitively,” but does not work for controlling populations.

In Australia, Mr. Fitch said, people have been sprinkling salt around their yards or putting it on their dogs’ coats to keep cane toads away. But he said those methods would probably be ineffective because they do not reduce the number of eggs or tadpoles significantly in an area.

Mr. Fitch said the best method for controlling cane toad populations was by handpicking them carefully when they are young and at low densities — before they reach reproductive age and start overtaking an area.

Though many animals eat cane toads, Mr. Fitch said they could take years to significantly reduce the numbers of the invasive species because the poison from the toads could kill them.

Humans have also studied ways of using biological control against cane toads by introducing viruses or bacteria that would specifically target them without harming other amphibian species, but these methods are still not ready for release in the field, he added.

Is salt toxic to cane toads?

Salt is not toxic to cane toads. Mix one part salt with four parts water. Then put it on the cane toad after stirring the mixture. It will irritate and burn the skin of the toad.

However, there are many other good reasons salt should not be used to kill cane toads. The most important reasons are:

Salt will kill some native animals such as frogs, lizards and snakes that share the same habitat as cane toads. Salt is also harmful to pets such as dogs and cats and will kill them if ingested.

Salt has no effect on large numbers of adult toads because the amount of salt required for a lethal dose cannot be effectively dispersed over a large area. Only tiny numbers of adult cane toads will ingest a lethal dose of salt in baiting programs.

It is illegal to use salt or any other substance or bait on cane toads except under permit from a state or territory wildlife agency.

What kills cane toads instantly?

No matter how much you try to remove them, cane toads will always find their way into your home.

Cane toads can be found in backyards and gardens, under timber, rocks and old logs. They are most active at night, particularly after summer rain.

The warty pests invade homes during the wet season in search of shelter and breeding grounds.

Experts say the best way to get rid of them is by pouring a cup of liquid household disinfectant on the toad’s back.

There have been many reports detailing how household disinfectant Dettol is a baby cane toad’s worst nightmare. Its active ingredient, chloroxylenol, kills the cane toad instantly through toxic shock syndrome–a rapid drop in blood pressure caused by an infection or other severe stressor on the body.

If Dettol is not available, another method for killing them is by prolonged exposure to carbon dioxide.

Put a few cane toads in a container and put a lid over it with holes punched in it. Take a large container of dry ice and put it inside the small container — they will die quickly from carbon dioxide poisoning.

What is the humane way to kill a cane toad?

The cane toad is a pest that has had a devastating impact on Australia’s environment. They are an invasive species (meaning they are animals introduced by humans into an environment where they did not previously exist).

By freezing

The most humane way to kill a cane toad is by freezing it. Place the cane toad in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer overnight. The freeze-drying method is considered humane because the cane toad does not feel pain from being frozen like it would from other methods, such as poisoning or clubbing it. However, the freeze-drying method takes longer than other methods for killing cane toads.

20% benzocaine toothache gel or sunburn spray

The University of Florida suggests euthanizing them humanely by rubbing or spraying 20% benzocaine toothache gel or sunburn spray on the cane toad. We recommend you wear gloves when you do this and be careful as the toad may try to escape before it dies.

Benzocaine works by preventing nerves from transmitting sensations of pain, touch, temperature, or itch. When applied to a toad’s skin, it prevents its nerves from transmitting feelings of pain, causing brain cells to die because of overstimulation and eventually killing it.

HopStop® spray

HopStop® is Australia’s first registered pest control product (APVMA Reg. No 139863) designed for the humane kill of cane toads. HopStop® contains a fast acting anaesthetic which renders the animals unconscious immediately upon application of Hop Stop® spray. The animal then becomes comatose and no further activity occurs. The animal remains comatose until it dies up to an hour later, depending on size and temperature.

The HopStop Foundation has done extensive research into the most effective means of killing cane toads. We are very aware of the sensitivities involved in this topic, and have worked with a toxicologist, local councils and other stakeholders to ensure that HopStop is 100% safe, effective and humane.

Conclusion

Don’t use salt to kill cane toads

Salt will not kill cane toads instantly. While they are toxic to some animals, they are not effective at killing cane toads.

Cane toads have a tough skin so the small doses of chemicals in salt or baking soda will not penetrate quickly enough to be lethal.

Putting salt or baking soda on a large adult cane toad can actually burn its skin and cause pain, suffering and distress. This will solve your problem temporarily.

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Dr Harunur Rashid (Harun) is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who has five years of experience in large pet animal medicine. He worked as a livestock officer for two years in an NGO, and since then he has been practicing pet animals medicine privately. He holds an MS in Pharmacology from Bangladesh Agricultural University and a DVM from the same institution.