Se­cret in­gre­di­ent makes toads more lethal

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - — Daniel Bate­man, The Cairns Post

A COM­MON house­hold weed­killer 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 rea­sons 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.”

Ac­cord­ing to the RSPCA, there are 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.

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