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Cane Toads: An Unnatural History (1988)

A documentary detailing the spread of Hawaiian sugar-cane toads through Australia in a botched effort to introduce them as counter pests.


Mark Lewis


Mark Lewis
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Tip Byrne Tip Byrne ... Self - Cane Farmer from Tully
H.W. Kerr H.W. Kerr ... Self - Director of the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, 1933-1943 (as Dr H.W. [Bill] Kerr)
Glen Ingram Glen Ingram ... Self - Senior Curator Amphibia and Birds, Queensland Museum (as Dr Glen Ingram)
Bill Freeland Bill Freeland ... Self - Wildlife Research Officer, Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory (as Dr Bill Freeland)
E.S. Edgerton E.S. Edgerton ... Self - Former Member Cane Pest Board
Pat White Pat White ... Self - Cane Farmer from Gordonvale
John Oakes John Oakes ... Self - Resident of Cairns
Patrick Cook Patrick Cook ... Self - Social Commentator
David Sondergard David Sondergard ... Self - Resident of Gordonvale
Rob Floyd Rob Floyd ... Self - Animal Ecologist (as Dr Rob Floyd)
Elvie Grieg Elvie Grieg ... Self - Resident of Redcliffe
Max Ackland Max Ackland ... Self - Mulgrave Shire Council (as Councillor Max Ackland)
Brian Hawke Brian Hawke ... Self - Binding Conservator, National Library
Bob Endean Bob Endean ... Self - Associate Professor of Zoology, Queensland University (as Dr Bob Endean)
Mike Archer Mike Archer ... Self - Associate Professor of Zoology, University of N.S.W. (as Dr. Michael Archer)
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Cane Toads is a documentary detailing the spread of Hawaiian sugar-cane toads (toads which live in the cane fields) through Queensland and then into the rest of Australia following a mis-informed attempt to introduce them to counter pests. Turns out they wouldn't eat the 'cane grubs' but they would multiply like no one's business... and they have no natural enemies in Australia at all, partly due to their poisonous skin. Written by Jay Furr <jfurr@danger.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The story of a bizarre biological blunder, warts and all!! See more »


Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

Mouse sequence filmed during regular feeding routine at Kurunda Wildlife Gardens. See more »


Featured in The Minus Man (1999) See more »


Cane Toad Blues
by Tim Finn
See more »

User Reviews

The Cane Mutiny!!
5 June 2003 | by Anonymous_MaxineSee all my reviews

The unnatural history of the introduction of cane toads into Australia is a hilarious documentary about what is certainly one of the most foolish of history's human attempts at changing their environment for their own advantage. It is almost sickening to consider the sheer numbers of these hideous creatures that were crawling all over north eastern Australia, as well as the absolute, unfiltered stupidity that led to their being brought into Australia in the first place. There does not appear to have been much more thought put into their introduction onto the continent other than they share part of the name of the pests that they were brought to eradicate.

I doubt very much, for example, that anyone looked much deeper into the nature (most importantly the feeding and mating habits) of the cane toads before they were brought over. Mating habits is something that most certainly should have been investigated, as the cane toad's sex drive is proven to be so strong that they are willing and able to attempt to mate with everything from a shoe to a human hand to a squashed and VERY dead cane toad. It's almost as though the people who brought these things into Australia said `CANE toads, CANE grubs. Of COURSE!!'

From the frightening shot of the little girl early in the documentary lovingly playing with one of the ridiculously unattractive toads to the other little girl playing with one of the ridiculously unattractive creatures near the end of the documentary, Cane Toads is a testament to the sheer extent of the human capacity for stupidity. It's amazing to me how friendly some people became with the creatures, which seem to be some of the most resilient creatures on earth, due to their ability to eat just about anything smaller than themselves and their almost total lack of any predators (except, of course, for the speeding tires of fed up Australians). Resilience, however, does not equal aesthetic appeal, as the cane toads are some of the most repulsive creatures I've ever seen.

Cane Toads takes a natural approach to looking at an environment plagued by a pest that was destroying a certain crop, and then takes a strange turn when it introduces the fact that humans introduced another pest in hopes of reducing the problem but succeeded only in greatly increasing them. It's an extremely unusual documentary, and it shows the perspectives on what I can't escape calling some of the more backwards specimens of the human species. Definitely an entertaining documentary, just remember that one of the natural rules of life requires that you do not look at a cane toad while you're eating. I only tell you this because I wish someone had told ME that before I watched the movie!

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Release Date:

9 June 1988 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Természetellenes történet varangyokról See more »

Filming Locations:

Cairns, Queensland, Australia See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Film Australia See more »
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Technical Specs

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