Retrospective 2015

Cane Toads: An Unnatural History

Mark Lewis
Australia 1988
47 min

Pet or pest? This is the question posed by CANE TOADS: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY, a short Australian documentary that’s an absolute delight. It supplies the answers to every conceivable question the viewer may have about the species in question, and a few extras: What can the toad do for tourism? Who feeds his favorite toads cat food, or thinks they look nice in baby clothes? Ugly even by toad standards, the cane toad is revealed to be an amazingly resourceful creature. It was imported to Australia from Hawaii in 1935 – to illustrate this, Mark Lewis, shows glimpses of a train trip across Australia, from a toad’s-eye view – in hopes that it would destroy a grub that threatened the sugar cane crop. Now there are millions of cane toads in Queensland. As one of the film’s interviewees puts it, “the total conquest of northern Australia is but a hop, skip and jump.” (Janet Maslin)


  • Bettina Dalton - Ranger, Queensland
  • Typ Byrne - Sugarcane Farmer
  • H.W. Kerr - Bureau of Sugar Experiments
  • Glen Ingram - Senior Curator im Queensland Museum
  • Bill Freeland - Wildlife Research Officer
  • E.S. Edgerton - Cane Pest Board
  • Rob Floyd - Animal Ecologist
  • Marie Roth - Resident
  • Cane Toad - as herself
  • Mark Lewis
  • Jim Frazier
  • Wayne Taylor
  • George Hart
  • Lindsay Frazer
  • Martin Armiger
Film Australia
16 mm
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