Understanding cane toad tadpoles

  • The vast majority of cane toad breeding activity occurs between the months of September and May in Australia
  • Each female cane toad can lay two clutches of eggs per breeding season
  • Each clutch can contain approximately 8,000 to 35,000 eggs
  • Cane toad tadpoles do not like to mix with other family groups. If you see a swarm of cane toad tadpoles, they will all be siblings
  • If you have a large waterbody with two separate swarms, they are most likely from different families

You MUST clean your trap THOROUGHLY after each use. If you don’t wash your trap properly, the scent of the previous catch will remain on your trap and the next time you use it, the new group of tadpoles won’t go near it

How do Cane Toad Tadpole Lures work?

  • Cane toad tadpoles like to eat the spawn of other female cane toads
  • Watergum Cane Toad Tadpole Lures give off the same scent as cane toad spawn
  • Cane toad tadpoles are attracted to the lure because they think they are going to find food
  • An ideal trapping session is 4 – 8 hours long, then the trap should be removed from the water
  • Each lure lasts for 24 hours of water-time. This means you can use a lure for an 8 hour trapping session, remove the lure, let it dry out, and then use it again for your next trapping session as it still has 16 hours of use remaining
  • Please note that lures will be strongest during their first use and will gradually become weaker as you reach 24 hours of water-use

When to use, and when not to use your trap

  • Only set your trap if you actually see cane toad tadpoles! CLICK HERE for cane toad VS native frog ID assistance
  • Ideally a trapping session should not exceed 8 hours. This may result in tadpoles dying in the trap. Dead tadpoles release a warning signal telling other tadpoles to stay away which will make your trapping session ineffective
  • TEMPERATURE – Tadpole trapping works best in water that is at least 18°C. This is because cane toad tadpoles lose their appetite when the water is cold, so they won’t be interested in the lure
  • If it is cold, use your trap in the mid-day sun
  • If it is hot, use your trap in the early morning or afternoon/evening, or you may want to try using your trap over night when it is cooler to prevent tadpoles from dying in the trap
  • Don’t use your trap during or just after heavy rain and be aware of tide patterns. Water movement and changes in water level will disrupt lure scent dispersal
  • Don’t place your trap in a strong current, the current will carry the lure scent away
  • Turn off fountains and filtration systems while using your trap. These items will disrupt lure scent dispersal
  • Do not use two traps close to one another. The scent plumes from each trap will join together and create a cloud and the tadpoles won’t know where to go and will not go into the traps
  • Only use two traps in the same waterbody if you have two distinct swarms and therefore two different family groups in the same waterbody. Ensure that the swarms and the traps are at least 15 metres away from one another

How to set your trap

  • Have your lure handy but do not put it into the trap yet
  • Before you put your trap into the water, place the lid (Side C) on and turn anticlockwise until it locks in place and the corresponding numbers match
  • Select a spot to place your trap, as close to the tadpoles as you can
  • Turn your trap on its side so that Side A is facing upwards and hold the trap under the water until it fills with water. Use the ‘Optimum Water Level’ guide on the trap to help you
  • Do not fully submerge your trap, ensure that the lure hole on Side A remains above the water
  • Ensure that your trap is stable and won’t move. You may want to place a rock inside the trap or on top, or you can use straps or other means to ensure the trap stays still
  • When the water movement has settled and your trap is secured in place, put a lure through the lure hole on side A where it says ‘Insert lure here’
  • The lure will release a scent plume into the water which will fill the trap and drift steadily out of the funnels, attracting the tadpoles into the trap
  • Do not move your trap once it is set as you will disrupt the scent plume
  • An ideal tadpole trapping session will last 4-8 hours, with the trap being checked intermittently to ensure tadpoles don’t die in the trap. Dead tadpoles release a warning signal that tells other tadpoles to stay away which can make your trapping session ineffective
  • If you do find dead tadpoles in you trap, end your trapping session, clean your trap and start again using the same lure

How to end your trapping session

  • Tip your trap upright so that the lid (Side C) is now on the top
  • If you followed the ‘Optimum Water Level’ guidelines, the water level inside your trap will be below the top of the long funnel and no water or tadpoles will be able to escape
  • If you submerged your trap deeper than the ‘Optimum Water Level’ line, that is okay, but beware of tadpoles falling out of the long funnel and the lure hole when the trap is tipped upright
  • Remove your trap from the water and turn the lid clockwise (Side C) to open the trap
  • Check your trap carefully for bycatch (frog tadpoles, small fish, eels) and return any accidental catches back into the water
  • Pour the contents of your trap through a net to contain the cane toad tadpoles
  • Wash your trap thoroughly with soap and water. Leave to dry in the sun

What to do with your tadpoles

  • You can find tadpole disposal information HERE.
  • Watergum encourages everyone to treat cane toads humanely. It’s not their fault they are on the wrong continent
  • The fridge/freezer method is currently the most humane euthanasia method approved for cane toads; place tadpoles in the fridge for 4 hours or more, then transfer them to the freezer for at least 8 hours
  • If this isn’t possible, please go to the FAQ section on the Watergum website for further humane euthanasia information
  • Tadpoles can be safely disposed of in compost systems or in the environment. Bury them deep to prevent pets, wildlife and stock animals from eating them and being poisoned
  • Bio-waste causes high concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane in landfill. If disposing of tadpoles in council waste, please utilise your bio-waste options