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Have maroons met their match? Best way to kill cane toads

NOW, before any of you cockroaches out there get excited about that headline following last night's game, this is a genuine article on how to humanely kill cane toads.

It does not involve smothering the hapless critters with a Blues jersey (surely the cruellest way to go) or hitting them with a hockey stick, golf club or Dettol.

They are a pest and, as such, are killed in their thousands every year.

But if, like me, you don't like inflicting pain on living creatures and are nervous about the karmic consequences, you might want to know how to get rid of cane toads without causing undue suffering.

Sydney University, Monash University and Wollongong University have just concluded research which proves that a once-popular method, outlawed nationally and internationally by animal ethics committees as inhumane, is actually the most simple and ethical way to kill toads.

Freeze them - but put them in the fridge first.

"We need to offer a humane death to the toads - it's not their fault they were brought to Australia 80 years ago - but until now nobody has been sure how to do it," says Sydney University's Professor Rick Shine, lead author on the research.

The researchers implanted small data-loggers in the brains of cane toads to measure pain responses. They then put the toads into a refrigerator for a few hours, before transferring them to a household freezer.

The toads quietly slipped into unconsciousness as they froze, and their brains did not register any evidence of pain during the process.

"This procedure was a widespread method for humanely killing amphibians and reptiles for many years until about 20 years ago, but animal ethics committees decided it was inhumane because the animals' toes might freeze while their brains were still warm enough to detect pain.

However, our work shows that in cane toads at least, the toad just drifts off into torpor as it cools down, and its brain is no longer functioning by the time its body begins to freeze."

Topics:  cane toads editors picks family activities

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