Queensland’s Cane Toad Races Strike Back Against Environmental Pests

in Australia

If you’re traveling around Australia and end up in the far north Queensland region, chances are that you’ll happen upon one of the area’s infamous cane toad races.


These wacky events are a crowd-pleasing way to deal with the infestation of these pesky amphibians.

The grotesque cane toads were originally introduced into Queensland to combat the beetles which destroyed the state’s sugarcane crops. Sadly the cane toads left the beetles alone, but began to decimate the rest of the landscape. They feasted upon small wildlife, while larger creatures that saw the toads as a meal succumbed to their poisonous glands. They also bred rapidly, and spread from Queensland to other Australian states.

Cane toad races are a way for the locals to strike back against this scourge. Race organizers collect a bucket of cane toads before the race. The toads are assigned numbers and humans who can win prizes if their toad comes out on top. It’s tradition for participants to kiss their toad for luck, although one wonders whether this makes the beasts hop any faster!

The cane toads are covered by a bucket placed in the middle of a central area, such as a dance floor. Once the bucket is lifted the crowds go wild, encouraging their toad to leave the area first.

cane toad

A hated cane toad

Once the race ends the toads are disposed of in a humane manner. Some suggest the practice is cruel, but one must remember that the cane toad is regarded as Australia’s biggest animal pest. Every toad killed helps to save the country’s native wildlife, so the races serve as a kind of community service.

You can watch a cane toad race nightly at Port Douglas’ Iron Bar Saloon, every Sunday at Mount Tamborine’s Bearded Dragon Tavern, and on Wednesdays at the Island Tavern on Magnetic Island.

[Image Source: Sam Fraser-Smith/Flickr]

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