Biosecurity alert: Asian black-spined toad

Page last updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2017 - 2:45pm

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Residents in Cloverdale and surrounding suburbs are urged to look out for unusual toads with raised black pimple-like warts after a live animal was recently discovered in a local resident’s yard.

The nocturnal animal was confirmed to be an Asian black-spined toad (Duttaphrynus melanostictus), a priority declared pest in Australia, prompting a call for the community to be vigilant in looking out for and reporting suspected exotic species.

It is important to determine whether there are more toads in the area and if so, locate them and prevent the species from establishing and potentially spreading.

Asian black-spined toad is closely related to the cane toad. It poses a significant threat to Western Australia’s environment and biodiversity as it could compete with native species for food and habitat.

The species is native to Asia and has the potential to establish in the wild in Australia. It has no natural predators.

Like the cane toad, the Asian black-spined toad excretes a poisonous substance that may affect pets if ingested. The toad’s skin secretions may cause itching in the nose and eyes when handled by humans.

As a species entering from overseas, it has the potential to carry exotic parasites and diseases.

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Officers from the departments of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions have undertaken extensive community awareness for the Asian black-spined toad in Cloverdale and surrounding suburbs.

Surveillance for the Asian black-spined toad had a focus on the vicinity of the detection, in addition to parks, waterways and bodies of water during daylight and night-time, when the toad is active.

The response from the community has been positive, with a number of reports received and investigated. No further toad has been found.

People are asked to remain on the lookout for unusual toads in Cloverdale and surrounding suburbs.

Travellers are asked to remain vigilant when returning from Asia that no unwanted pests, such as the Asian black-spined toady, have returned in their personal belongings or clothes.

Asian black-spined toads in Western Australia

The Asian black-spined toad is a prohibited declared pest in Western Australia under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act 2007. The importation, keeping, breeding and trading of this species is illegal and penalties apply.

In the past, individual Asian black-spined toads have been intercepted at Australian airports and seaports, mainly in international vessels, shipping containers and machinery, as well as returning travellers’ personal belongings and clothes.

Report suspect Asian black-spined toads

Reports of Asian black-spined toads are critical to protect Western Australia from the potential establishment of the species.

If you think you have found an Asian black-spined toad, report it immediately via the phone hotline on 0400 693 807, or use the MyPestGuide Reporter app or MyPestGuide Report Online and choose the ‘ABST survey’ option.  

Clear photos and an accurate description of where and when the animal was sighted are vital.

If possible, attempt to contain the animal alive in a container it can’t escape from. Wear disposable gloves when handling the toad and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Asian black-spined toad
Asian black-spined toad. Photo courtesy of Janet and Phil

Identification

Size

The Asian black-spined toad is described as stocky, about nine to 15 centimetres in size, with a relatively small head and short hind limbs. Adults look similar to cane toads but they don’t grow as large.

Colour

The colour of the toad varies, from greyish to red-brown to almost black. The most common colour is pale yellow-brown with dark or reddish-brown streak and spots.

Distinctive features

Its back is covered in various-sized round black warts often surrounded by a darker pigment and capped with dark, distinctive spines. Their head has elevated bony ridges, with long dark crests that border the eyelids and run down either side of the eye. They have black tipped, hooked toes.

Asian black-spined toad with distinguishing features illustrated
Distinguishing features of the Asian black-spined toad.

Behaviour

The Asian black-spined toad is a ground-dweller, a poor climber and unable to jump very high due to the absence of large toe pads.

It is nocturnal so shelters during the day under rocks, leaf-litter, logs and man-made structures such as drains, rubbish piles and houses. At night they often gather beneath lights to catch insects.

Call

The call of the Asian black-spined toad sounds like a telephone dial tone (creo-o-o; cro-ro-ro-ro), sustained for about 30 seconds, repeated monotonously. It is very different to most native frog calls. It is heard at night and sometimes on overcast days.

Author

Rick Bryant

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