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Cane Toads In Compost

Cane Toads in Compost

After the first decent rain of the warmer seasons here on the Sunshine Coast, there is an inevitable deluge of tiny toadlets of the Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) that swarm out of the dam and head for higher ground and safety. While they are still young and before they have developed parotid glands on their shoulders, they are edible to birds and other creatures, i used to feed them to my chickens for many years with no ill effects. It is easy to visibly identify once they have developed the parotid glands; these contain a number of compounds collectively known as bufotoxin. One of the constituents is bufotenin, a scheduled compound in Australian State and Federal law (ha), a compound also found in the plant world, including Anadenanthera colubrina (Cebil), whose seeds are prepared as an hallucinogenic snuff in parts of South America.

Anyway! Apart from the usual freezing and then adding back into the compost bin or burying dead toads under plants (to give them a nice kick start) or feeding non-poisonous toadlets to fowl, there aren’t too many other uses for them yet. Well, I guess there are the wallets, etc. made out of stuffed, dead toads that are sold to tourists.

Wondering what to do with toadlets, I chucked a few in my compost bin and thought nothing more of it. They couldn’t get out and it was a bit of an experiment. That was over a month and a half ago and the two toads have grown well by feeding on insects in the bin. They are often showered with kitchen refuse and horse manure but the next time I visit the bin, they are happily sitting on top of the heap catching bugs and a little bigger than last time I saw them. They have reduced the number of vinegar flys, etc. down to almost nothing! They have grown extremely fast in such a warm environment and on a good diet. Once the compost bin is full the toads will be retired to the freezer and returned to the soil. This I found is a good way to keep insects in check inside the compost bin and is at least a good use of this creature that is now firmly a part of the Australian fauna.

Cane toads living happily in the compost bin, eating insects. Note the light coloured parotid gland visible on the left shoulder.


This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. what of adult canetoads in compost. does their poison break down. I collect every night in summer and get hundreds. I have been wanting to compost them but concerned about their poison in the soil.

    1. Hi Jenny,

      yes their poison will break down, just make sure your compost is vigourous enough to break down animals, the flies get in and the maggots do their work, but they are full of nutrients and it is good to return them to the garden, i do it!

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