A great egret looks for breakfast at Calamvale Creek


Scientific stuff

Cane toad

Bufo marinus
Family: Bufonidae
Order: Anura
Class: Amphibia
Average-sized adults are 10-15 centimetres
(4-6 inches)

Thick, stocky amphibian with dry, warty skin. Colour varies, but most are shades of orange, brown, yellow, grey, olive brown, or some combination of these. Undersides are smoother and paler with grey blotches.

Hind feet are webbed between the toes, but front feet are not. Adults have large toxic glands on each shoulder behind their eardrums. Males are wartier than females.

Newborn and tiny young cane toads look completely black, and you may not see them unless they hop in front of you.

Cane toads are regarded as pests in Australia.

Has a personality like a bulldozer. Breeds and spreads in huge numbers. Almost nothing eats it because it is poisonous, so it keeps breeding, and it eats almost anything. Plays chicken on the roads at night with cars and trucks.

Using our photos

Photos on this website are copyright. If you want to use any, email us at: creeklife@gmail.com

Norman's photos

Norman and his family live around the creek in their thousands, but you will usually see them only at night.

The photographer said:
“Like most cane toads, Norman was not afraid of me when my small penlight shone at him one night around the creek.

“He stayed still for more than 10 minutes while I photographed him with different settings on my camera. In fact, he was probably one of the easiest creek critters to photograph because of this.

“Light seems to hypnotize cane toads. Norman didn't move while I shone light on him and my camera flashed in his eyes a couple of dozen times.

“The same thing happens when car headlights shine in a cane toad's eyes when you are driving at night. They just sit there and let the car run over them.”

Critters of Calamvale Creek

Norman the cane toad

Bufo marinus

norman1 (13K) Brrurk! Howdy folks. I'm Norman the cane toad.

Even though I am officially regarded as a pest in Australia, I think I'm one of the country's success stories.

From just 102 of my ancestors who were imported into Australia from Hawaii in 1935, cane toads now number in the millions.

Why we were brought to Australia

norman3 (33K)My ancestors were brought to Gordonvale in Queensland in 1935 to try to get rid of cane beetles, which were a pest in the sugar cane fields at that time.

It's not our fault that the experiment went wrong. You see, we don't mind the taste of cane beetles, but the cane beetles lived high up the cane stalks, and we can only jump a few centimetres. I mean, really, how were we supposed to get up to the beetles! We had to find other things to eat.

What do I eat?

cane_toad_camouflage2 (22K)

I eat almost anything around the creek that will fit in my mouth. Moths, beetles, bees, ants, crickets, small snakes — I will even eat dog food if I find it in someone's back yard.

We have helped drive out most of the frogs from the creek because we not only eat the same food that frogs like, but we sometimes even eat the frogs.

We are poisonous to most animals, so most leave us alone. If I see a threat I will turn side on, so my parotoid glands are aimed at the foe. I can spray a fine mist for a short distance, and to humans this may cause intense pain, temporary blindness, and inflammation.

Where do I sleep and live?

cane_toad_camouflage (37K)I am active after the sun has gone down and during the night in warm months.

During winter and on most days I shelter in moist crevices in rocks, under plants, and in hollows I dig out around logs or in debris.

I can hide very well, and even camouflage myself on certain types of backgrounds. Just look how well my nephew Kikki blends with the moist pebbles in the photo above.

Feed me and I will keep growing

norman2 (15K)If there is a lot of food around I will just keep getting bigger. I may reach 25 centimetres (10 inches) and weigh as much as 4 kilograms (8 pounds). Mrs Cane-Toad and I sometimes produce more than 30,000 eggs in a single spawning.

Yes, it's a good life being a cane toad. And we will probably keep spreading further around Australia unless someone finds a way to get rid of us. The only thing we eat that kills us is lavender beetles. Frogs don't eat lavender beetles, so I hope no one starts feeding those to us soon. I like it at Calamvale Creek.

— Norman the cane toad