FROM CROCODILES TO SNAKES and quolls, many Australian species have died trying to eat the indestructible cane toad. But it seems that some native spiders have found a way to consume large numbers of the large toxic pest.
Spider expert Dr Robert Raven, from the Queensland museum, says three families of spider – Australian tarantulas, wolf spiders and racing stripe spiders – may be helping to keep northern Queensland cane toad numbers in check.
“That spiders eat cane toads is not uncommon or unknown,” says Robert. “The interesting thing is size of the toads they are able to take. In one instance, the toad was bigger than the opening of the spider’s burrow.”
Natives fight back: spiders vs. cane toads
Although the Australian tarantula (Theraphosidae sp.) is able to kill and eat larger toads, says Robert, the more common wolf spider (Lycosidae sp.) may be a better candidate for reducing the number of cane toads.
“Tarantulas and wolf spiders both kill dogs and cats quickly, in around thirty minutes to an hour with one bite,” says Robert.
“However, tarantulas are quite low in number, and they’re becoming rarer because of humans.”