Monday, September 28, 2015

Cane Toadlets

With all the rain we've been having here, there has been a sudden population explosion of cane toads. We have been finding adult toads in the farm ponds and as quick as we remove them, others appear a few days later. I didn't realize just how many adult cane toads were in this area. 

If it weren't that we have patrolling farm dogs, I would let the cane toads have free run on our acres. They are great at eating various garden beetles, and perhaps more. But a curious dog can easily be killed if they grab or bite one of those toads. I witnessed my neighbor's dog dying after having harassed a cane toad (it must have grabbed or bitten it though we didn't witness that event, but we did see her snooping around the toad). It was horrible to watch and nothing could be done to save the small dog. 

Even with our diligence of eliminating adult toads, we have been finding tadpoles in the main pond. The koi fish apparently have been eating a lot of them, but far too many have been surviving and avoiding the fish. Or perhaps the fish have eaten their daily fill and there have simply been too many tadpoles. I attempt to net any tadpole that comes near the pond edges, but that has left too many the have been developing into toadlets. 

Now what? Toadlets escaping the pond! 

Ducks and chickens to the rescue. I've been encouraging the birds to forage over by the pond. The ducks have been nosing down in the weeds a lot recently but I'm not sure if they are actually eating toadlets. So I devised a scheme to bring the chickens to the pond. 

I enticed the hens to follow me to the pond area, but they started to get nervous and head back to their pen. So next I laid a thin trail of cracked corn over to the pond. Greedy hens followed the trail. I felt like I was some sort of pied piper! 

Next I needed to get the birds to cross the pond bridge and discover the toadlets. Again, cracked corn did the trick. 

Little piles of cracked corn led the hens across the bridge. As soon as one hen discovered the toadlets on the far side, it became a free for all. Everybody started scratching about, stirring up toadlets and gobbling them down. 

Using the chickens as biological toad control sits well with me. No poisons. Free protein for the chickens. As long as I encourage the hens over to the pond once a day, they seem to be eliminating all the developing toadlets. 

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