HopStop - the gift that keeps on killing?

Years ago, I did a post on HopStop cane toad spray. The consensus in the comments was that HopStop - was a cruel and ineffectual way of dealing with cane toads.

However, the producers of HopStop (Pestrol), previously, Pestat Pty Ltd, say Hopstop is:

An easy to use aerosol spray that anaesthetises toads within seconds, killing them humanely in 30 ‐ 60 minutes. HopStop is a patented Australian innovation that provides for the humane killing of this highly invasive species. HopStop Cane Toad Spray - Buy Online

They continue ...

In fact, HopStop is recommended by the RSPCA for toad control, and by the Queensland Schools Animal Ethics Committee for euthanising toads for school laboratory studies.

HopStop is safe to use around people and pets when used in accordance with the approved product label. Its active constituent, chloroxylenol, is an organic compound.

HopStop has also won the Australasian Aerosol Industry Association’s ‘Innovation Award’, and ‘Best New Product’ award.

Below is what Pestrol claim the Australian SPCA says about Hopstop cane toad spray:

Hopstop Cane Toad Spray is an aerosol spray that has been specifically developed for killing cane toads and is now commercially available for this purpose. When applied in sufficient quantity it appears to be an effective, easy to use and relatively humane method.

It is very important that each toad is treated with sufficient spray to ensure it is anaesthetised and then killed quickly, so two sprays are required with the second applied after the toad has stopped moving. After 2 hours toads should be checks (sic) for signs of death before disposal.

Here's what the Australian SPCA actually says about HopStop:

Hopstop – this is an aerosol spray that has been specifically developed for killing cane toads and is commercially available for this purpose. When applied in sufficient quantity it appears to be effective and easy to use but some toads show signs of pain and distress after its application.

Although Hopstop contains the same active ingredient found in Dettol (which causes extreme skin irritation and pain), it also contains a chemical which reduces but may not eliminate this irritation.

Dettol is considered inhumane and should not be used.
What is the most humane way to kill a cane toad? – RSPCA Knowledgebase

Right - so Pestrol's claim that it is recommended by the Australian RSPCA is wildly exaggerated at best. Their description of chloroxylenol is problematic as well.

Saying something is organic means what exactly?.

In your mind, does the word "organic", conjure up vague notions of health, well-being and sound ethical standards?.

Yup, mine too.

But in this context - that is not what the word means. Anything that contains carbon and/or anything that is derived from living organisms is 'organic'. This means that anthrax is organic, as are all biological weapons.

The National Library of Medicine (2022) classes chloroxylenol as an irritant and that one of the synonyms for it, is simply Dettol.

At this point you might be asking yourself why do I care?, and why should you?.

Well, aside from the obviously questionable claims that Hopstop is a humane method of killing toads. There is a wider area of concern.

The American EPA has a PDF about the use of chloroxylenol, (Fact Sheet for Chloroxylenol | Download PDF).

Under the heading: Ecological Effects Risk Assessment, they say this about the use of chloroxylenol outdoors:

Chloroxylenol is practically non-toxic to birds, moderately toxic to freshwater invertebrates and highly toxic to fish. However, exposure to terrestrial and aquatic organisms is extremely minimal since chloroxylenol has almost all indoor uses. The sole outdoor use, on pet living quarters, will not result in significant environmental exposure.

Therefore, when used according to label directions, chloroxylenol poses only a minimal risk to terrestrial and aquatic organisms.

The indoor use they refer to is general disinfecting/sanitising and the like.

To be fair, Pestrol recommend that you collect the toads and spray them in an enclosed environment, a suitable container etc.

But this brings me to yet another point - Pestrol call the use of Hopstop a hands-off solution for controlling cane toads. But if you do it the way they recommend, it can't be.

And if you're collecting toads anyway, why not save yourself $20.00 by chilling/freezing them?.

Introduced Cane Toad
Cane Toad (yellow form)

I don't think you need to do much reading between the lines here to understand the obvious.

I suspect that most people simply spray the toads as they see them, where they see them, and they spray them just the once - causing pain, but perhaps not death.

Such a spray and pray method, with chemicals that were never designed to be used indiscriminately outdoors, run a significant risk of fouling water-ways and killing fish, plants and god knows what else.

It seems you might do less harm to the environment not spraying the toads at all.

The more I look into this product, the less convinced I am that it has a lot of positives going for it. And it may be a case of the cure being as bad, or worse, than the disease.

I've sourced a can of this stuff and in the next post on this topic, I'm going to dig a little deeper into Petstrol's claims.

I will also be testing what happens when Hopstop is applied to human skin

Please Note: Pestrol makes it very clear that Hopstop should not be sprayed on people.

However - I can't think of a simpler way of testing what this stuff actually does than by trying it on myself. And hey - you get the opportunity to see the results - so that'll be fun, right?
Take care


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