IMB's Cane Toad Challenge research project

Professor Rob Capon and his team discovered a way to turn cane toads’ own toxin against them, which has real potential to eradicate this long-term pest.

Cane toads are relentless invaders that reproduce at an astonishing rate, eat just about anything, and are highly toxic at all stages of their life cycle, as eggs, tadpoles and adults, poisoning and killing virtually all potential predators. The release of just 100 adult cane toads in Australia a mere 80 years ago, created the current situation, where hundreds of millions of poisonous cane toads now occupy millions of square kilometers of Australia, devastating native species as they advance across the nation.

For many years, the only option for reducing cane toad numbers has been hand capture of adults – known as Toad Busting. Despite dispatching many tens of thousands of toads, toad busting alone is not the answer. Each new generation of toads replenishes and builds on the last, and the invasion continues unabated.

Turning cane toads against themselves

We have discovered that cane toad tadpoles are drawn to a chemical attractant released by toad eggs. We isolated and identified this chemical, and developed tadpole attractant baits that we call BufoTabs.

When placed in the shallows where cane toad tadpoles congregate, a single BufoTab in a funnel trap attracted and trapped several thousand tadpoles, in just a few hours. As a bonus, the attractant was highly selective for toad tadpoles, and did not attract frog tadpoles. Once trapped, toad tadpoles could be harvested, humanely euthanised, and disposed of safely.

To take the battle to the toad we created the Cane Toad Challenge.  Although its early days, our tadpole trappers have already removed more than a million poisonous tadpoles from local waterways.

In 2021 UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest granted the licence for the lure to not-for-profit Watergum, an organisation dedicated to driving environmental cultural change through grassroots community education.

An Ugly Menace

Toad Traps: A New Weapon in the War Against cane Toads

The science behind cane toad tadpole baits

A cane toad bounty is not the answer

Cane toad challenge explained

Brisbane City Council commissioned report by Ecosure 

Australian Federal Government Inquiry into “Controlling the spread of cane toads”

Cane toads own toxins being used to fight back

A revolutionary weapon in the war on cane toads


Thanks so much for the Bufo Tabs. They were so easy to use and very successful. It worked brilliantly and our dam is now completely free of toad tadpoles!! Thanks so much for your help – we have been fighting a constant battle against toads and I’m thrilled to finally have a way to get rid of them.

 - Kathy McDuff (Trevathy Drought Masters)