Science - Fancy that?

30th September 2011 at 01:00

Sausages to beat curse of the cane toad

Scientists in Australia have come up with a unique solution to stop native mammals eating the deadly cane toad - give them a poisonous "starter" that makes them sick.

A research team from Sydney University has produced a small sausage laced with cane-toad meat and a nausea-inducing drug as a form of "taste aversion therapy" for vulnerable wildlife which might fancy the toads as a snack.

Animals which eat the sausage become mildly ill. When they next encounter a toad, whose toxic glands can induce cardiac arrest, they associate it with being sick and leave it alone.

It's early days, but the scientists hope it will save wildlife by stopping them from trying to feast on the toads. They focused on the quoll, a carnivorous marsupial whose numbers declined dramatically after the regions in which they once thrived were invaded by cane toads.

In Kakadu National Park the quolls - described by scientists as "cute with lots of personality" - became extinct.

Trials have now extended to include blue-tongue lizards and monitor lizards, which also eat the toads.

You can teach children more about endangered species using beaumoa1's lesson plan at TES Resources.

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