Humane Euthanasia and Disposal of Cane Toad Tadpoles

Cane Toad tadpoles can be humanely euthanised using the Cooling and Freezing Method.

Here at Watergum, we only believe in the humane and ethical treatment of animals, even if they are an invasive species. Cane toads deserve to be treated kindly and humanely, after all it is not their fault they are on the wrong continent, they were put here by US!

The cooling and freezing method involves refrigerating tadpoles for up to 8 hours before transferring them to the freezer.

Follow the instructions below for humane euthanasia and disposal.


So, you have collected a heap of cane toad tadpoles in your Cane Toad Tadpole Trap, now it is time to humanely euthanise them.

Empty your trap through a net to catch your tadpoles.

Place the caught tadpoles in a bag or a container. Leave a bit of water in there to make the process more humane.


Place your container of toads into the fridge and leave the for 8 hours.

During this period of cooling, the tadpoles will slip peacefully into torpor, which is a semi-comatose state, similar to hibernation.

When in torpor, the tadpoles are still alive but are unable to feel pain. This means that when they are frozen, they do not feel any pain and simply slip away.

If cane toad tadpoles are frozen instantly, they experience the pain caused by ice crystals forming in their veins, which can be significant.


Once your tadpoles have been refrigerated for 8 hours, you can then transfer them to the freezer.

Leave your cane toad tadpoles in the freezer for a minimum of 8 hours. Freezing is necessary to ensure the tadpoles pass away.


Now that you have successfully euthanised your cane toad tadpoles, it is time to dispose of them safely.

The best option is to utilise them for compost production. Cane toad toxin within the tadpoles will break down very quickly, although ideally don’t utilise your compost for +6 months.

*TIP – Build a ‘Hot Compost System’ to speed up the composting process! Instructions can be found HERE.

Cane toad toxin is not dangerous for worms and other insects which reside in your compost. However it is important that you protect other animals from your decomposing toads.

Use a compost bin that is secure and has a lid so that animals and pets can’t dig up the tadpoles and eat them.


If you are unable to compost your tadpoles, you can dispose of them in council waste collection, however please utilise your bio-waste options.

Some council areas have bio-waste bins, others may have a waste-station that you can travel to.

It is important not to add biological waste to landfill as this results in the production of excess methane which is terrible for the environment.


If you live on a rural property and none of these options are available to you, please simply bury your dead cane toad tadpoles.

The bodies will decompose and will benefit the soil.

However, it is important that you bury them deep to prevent pets and wildlife from digging them up and eating them.

Why Does Watergum Recommend the Cooling and Freezing Method?

The research to support the declaration of this method being humane is available here and was conducted in 2015. This research monitored body temperatures and the brain activity of cane toads throughout cooling and freezing which shows that they slip into a coma-like state (called torpor) during the cooling period which inhibits brain activity and prevents their brain from recognising the pain experienced from ice crystals forming in their veins which occurs during freezing. This confirms that cooling and then freezing is a humane method of euthanasia.

Although this study concerns adult tadpoles, the same methodology should be utilised when euthanising cane toad tadpoles. It is necessary to freeze the tadpoles after cooling them as other studies into tadpole euthanasia have found rapid cooling alone to be ineffective in euthanising tadpoles. You can read one such study here.

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