​Media Release

Thai toads hitch a ride in luggage

14 August 2015

An increasing number of travellers have been surprised to discover black spined toad stowaways in their luggage when arriving back in Australia from Thailand. 

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said that there has been a significant rise in detections of hitch-hiking toads and stressed the importance of keeping exotic pests out of Australia. 

"These toads are active at night and often feed on insects in well-lit areas before seeking to rest in dark, moist areas during day. Shoes and equipment left out overnight make great shelters for toads," Minister Joyce said. 

"Biosecurity officers have been alerted to six surprise stowaways over the past few weeks, which is three times what we usually see in a year. 

"Most of the toads have come from Khao Lak, an area of Thailand slightly north of Phuket. My department is working with hotels in the area as well as Australian travel agents to raise awareness of the increased risk. 

"This pest is not present in Australia, would have no natural predators were it to gain a foothold and has potential to cause more damage to Australia's environment and productivity than the cane toad. 

"The black spined toad could devastate our $41 billion agriculture export industries as well as our unique environment, native flora and fauna, our tourism industries and lifestyle. 

"The black spined toad is native to a large number of Asian countries so we need everyone who is travelling to Thailand to be especially vigilant and to check their shoes and other items for potential stowaways.  

"I want to stress that we all have a role in protecting Australia's biosecurity." 

If you see a black spined toad or any pest you think may have hitch-hiked into Australia, contain it where possible and immediately report it to the Department of Agriculture on 1800 798 636.

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Photo of a black spined toad