Kakadu – quolls and cane toads

Kakadu is working with the Uni of Sydney and Territory Wildlife Park on a cane toad trial in the East Alligator area.

Quolls eat almost anything! We’re trying to train them not to eat cane toads.

We feed a captive-bred quoll a small dead toad laced with a nausea-inducing chemical. The chemical induces mild nausea and the quoll then associates the smell and taste of cane toads with feeling sick.

We hope these ‘toad-smart’ quolls will teach a next generation who won’t eat cane toads.

Quoll release | Parks Australia

We released 50 trained ‘toad-smart’ quolls in late 2009 and early 2010 and we’ve done four rounds of trapping to see whether the adults have survived in the wild and whether they’ve had babies.

It’s early days yet. At least two quolls seemed to forget their training and died from eating a toad within a week. But a bonus is the trapping of 10 wild quolls – more than expected.

In our latest trapping in December we trapped 13 quolls: seven juveniles, two ‘toad smart’ females – and two wild females and two wild males. The ‘toad smart’ quolls have now survived for 12 months in toad‐infested areas and female quolls survived long enough to breed. We still need to DNA test the juveniles to see who their parents are.

We need to keep trapping and DNA testing over the next year or two to see whether the juveniles survive to adulthood. If they are offspring from trained quolls, and they survive, that will be a great success.

Either way it is fantastic to confirm that a population of wild‐born quolls has survived in the area despite toads!

Anne, Kakadu National Park