Stay frog-eyed for high-risk toads in luggage

Don’t spoil your holidays by enabling a high-risk pest to hitch hike in your luggage.

The discovery of an Asian black-spined toad in the luggage of returning holidaymakers from Bali has prompted a State Government reminder for travellers to double check their luggage before returning to Australia.

Described as one of Australia’s “10 most wanted”, the Asian black-spined toad has the potential to be more damaging than the cane toad.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said an Adelaide family received a shock when they discovered one in their suitcase on their return from a recent holiday in Bali.

“Fortunately for us, they immediately contacted the Zoo and handed it in,” said Minister Speirs.

“This serves as a good reminder to travellers that it pays to double check their luggage before heading back to Australia.

“To the best of our knowledge the Asian black-spined toad is not known to be in Australia, but increasing numbers of them are being intercepted at Australian airports and sea ports, arriving on planes and ships originating from Asia. So it does pay to check your luggage, particularly the inside of your shoes, thoroughly before you head back home.

“Australia and South Australia are fortunately free of the world’s worst pests and diseases largely due to the strength of our biosecurity system and some of the strictest biosecurity conditions in the world.

“However biosecurity is a shared responsibility and cases like these demonstrate the important vital role that members of the public have to play. So we ask everyone to remember to be biosecurity aware and if something doesn’t look right report it immediately.”

PIRSA Biosecurity SA Executive Director Will Zacharin, said the toad was widespread and abundant throughout south-east Asia.

“They are a stocky toad with a small head and short hind limbs,” said Mr Zacharin.

“Their back is covered with pimple-like warts that are often surrounded by a darker pigment and capped with distinctive spines. There is also a prominent black ridge over each eye, which meet at the nose.

“The Asian black-spined toad can be mistaken with the native – and harmless – eastern banjo frog, but more importantly can be commonly mistaken for the cane toad, which is of course is another reportable pest animal that poses a significant threat to our biodiversity.

“While there are no known populations in Australia, we are aware that the Asian black-spined toad are able to survive and breed in cooler southern states including South Australia.

“In addition to being a disease risk to our native frogs and toads, these toads will also compete with them for food and habitat and being carnivorous they have the potential to feed on native wildlife. A poison gland behind its eye also makes them toxic to both native animals and domestic pets.”

If you think you see an Asian black-spined toad:

  • Catch it and put it in a bucket or container with a small amount of water (approx. 1cm depth)
  • Take a photo of the suspected toad – don’t let it go until identification is confirmed.
  • Contact the Pest Alert Hotline on 1800 084 881 or Biosecurity SA’s Invasive Species Unit on 08 8303 9620.
  • Identification will be confirmed and you will be advised what to do with the animal.

For further information on the Asian black-spined toad visit

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