Choosing The Right Fence For Keeping Cane Toads Out Of Your Garden

Posted on: 25 June 2018

Of all the many invasive pests that have infested Australia's ecosystem over the years, the humble cane toad is probably the most notorious, and this voracious amphibian can deal terrible damage to your garden's plants, flowers and vegetables if they are allowed free reign to enter your property. However, for many of us simply slaughtering every cane toad that steps foot in our garden isn't an option; besides the obvious ethical problems, cane toads have toxic skin and blood which can poison nearby plants and family pets even after the toad is destroyed.

Fortunately, you don't have to become a lean, mean toad-killing machine to keep these noxious pests out of your yard, as a simple fence can be very effective at deterring cane toad invasions. However, not just any fence will do, and if you intend to install a truly cane toad-proof fence you should keep the following guidelines in mind as you shop for fencing supplies.

Choose a fence that provides a solid barrier

A standard wooden picket fence might have traditional charm, but it won't cut it if cane toad deterrence is a priority, as even the fattest cane toad can fit itself through the gaps between the slats of the average picket fence. To keep cane toads at bay, you will need to install either a panel fence, or a densely woven chain link fence with gaps too small for cane toads to fit through. 

Solid wooden fence panels can work here, but are not an ideal choice for reasons mentioned below. An aluminium chain link fence is much more suitable, as long as the gaps between the aluminium wires are less than a couple of inches wide. Wire cattle fencing should be avoided, as the large, square gaps between wires can admit entry to most cane toads.

Choose a fence that will not rot or rust

Cane toads are particularly notorious for their ability to burrow under obstacles, and can dig themselves surprisingly deep in the ground to bypass above-ground fencing. This means that you will have to bury the bottom portion of your fence at least six inches in the ground to prevent burrowing toads from accessing your garden, and this puts limitations on the fencing materials you can use.

Constant exposure to moist earth will quickly cause partially-buried timber fences to rot, which can look very unsightly and will soften the timber enough for larger toads to barge through it. Similarly, fences made of ferrous metals such as still will rust and fall apart under these conditions. Your cane toad fence should therefore be made of either vinyl plastics or, if you have a little more money to spend, aluminium. 

Choose a fence without horizontal cross-members

Like most toads and frogs, cane toads are more agile than they appear, and while they cannot leap over a fence more than a couple of feet tall, they can hop onto horizontal cross-members to 'climb' a poorly-chosen fence. Your fence should therefore be free of any horizontal cross-members. You should also keep pot plants, raised potting beds and other substantial objects away from the outer perimeter of your fence, as these can provide raised platofrms from which cane toads can easily leap your fence.