Dung Beetles; Canberra’s unconventional solution to handling dog poo

Nina Gbor 22 July 2018 24
Gemma Thomson, Founder and CEO, Puppis Baw - Dung Beetles for Dogs. Photos: Supplied.

Gemma Thomson, Founder and CEO, Puppis Baw – Dung Beetles for Dogs. Photos: Supplied.

In a city with about as many dogs as children, it’s fair to say Canberra deals with a lot of dog poo. In fact, these dogs can fill two Olympic-size swimming pools every year with the amount of poo they produce! The waste is usually wrapped in individual plastic bags that all end up in the landfill. Handling dog poo is not only tedious for dog owners, but the plastic used is detrimental to the environment. Gemma Thomson, founder and CEO of Puppis Baw – Dung Beetles for Dogs swears that Dung Beetles are nature’s solution to handling dog poo that supports an ecosystem, benefits plants and the Canberra environment.

Dung Beetles; Canberra’s unconventional solution to handling dog poo

Did you know that in Canberra, there are about as many dogs as there are children? Every year, the region’s canines produce around two Olympic-sized swimming pools full of poo, and many dog droppings end up in single-use plastic bags. Nina Gbor caught up with Gemma Thomson, the founder of Puppis Baw – Dung Beetles for Dogs, for a fascinating conversation about dog poo, the Canberra ecosystem, and how dung beetles can help cut down on waste.

Posted by The RiotACT on Friday, 20 July 2018

Dung beetle

Dung beetle.

Website: https://dungbeetlesfordogs.com.au/
Facebook: @puppisbaw
Instagram: @puppisbaw

What's Your Opinion?

Please login to post your comments, or connect with
24 Responses to Dung Beetles; Canberra’s unconventional solution to handling dog poo
TB TB 9:15 pm 26 Jul 18

Does this mean dog walkers let their dogs poop on our front yards without our permissions? Hope not. Also poops attract as rats/mice and among other problems associated with it.

Jody Maree Harrison Jody Maree Harrison 9:49 pm 22 Jul 18

So with a poo thing happening can we also make community gardens to feed the people give people something to do as well as eat

Philomena van Rijswijk Philomena van Rijswijk 8:58 pm 22 Jul 18

Between the poop and the ingrstion by dung beatles, there is a lot of potential for shoes and toddlers.

    Gemma Thomson Gemma Thomson 10:35 am 23 Jul 18

    Hi Philomena, I’m not sure I understand your question! If you’d like to elaborate I’d be happy to help.

    Philomena van Rijswijk Philomena van Rijswijk 11:33 am 23 Jul 18

    Gemma Thomson I meant dung beatles take some time....

Hannah Smalls Starface Hannah Smalls Starface 8:49 pm 22 Jul 18


    Morgan Mavourneen Wilson Morgan Mavourneen Wilson 6:47 am 23 Jul 18

    This is nothing like that and we have none of those problems with dung beetles ☺

    Hannah Smalls Starface Hannah Smalls Starface 7:26 am 23 Jul 18

    For now.

    Gemma Thomson Gemma Thomson 8:33 am 23 Jul 18

    Hannah, I get your concern. Cane toads are an environmental catastrophe.

    The thing about dung beetles is they are actually a single food source species. They are not venomous or poisonous and only feed on the poop that they bury. They don’t feed on native species poop so pose no risk to native species.

Rin Dell Rin Dell 12:10 pm 22 Jul 18

This is a fantastic idea!! Sue Edwards problem solved!!

Graham Wilson Graham Wilson 11:51 am 22 Jul 18

Just let it go white & run over it with the Mower... 2 jobs dealt with at once 👍

Sandra Stops Sandra Stops 11:03 am 22 Jul 18

I have just set up a dog poo com poster in my yard so I don’t have to put bags of poo into my bin each week. The weather has been so cold so not sure how well it works yet but waiting for earthworms to start their job breaking it all down. By the way...people please do not pickup your dog poo so you look to be doing the right thing and then dump the plastic bag under a tree on the way home🤔

    Jenny Hutchison Jenny Hutchison 12:06 pm 22 Jul 18

    I have been using (two) pet poo composters for nearly two years and they work well, even during winter. I also walk with a friend who picks up dog poo output at the beginning of our walks, stashes the bag by a tree, then WITHOUT FAIL collects the bag on our return!

    Michele Woods Michele Woods 12:13 pm 22 Jul 18

    Jenny Hutchison how badly does the composter smell? I have cats and dog and there is alot of poop produced in my family. Would be good to have a better way of dealing

    Jenny Hutchison Jenny Hutchison 2:28 pm 22 Jul 18

    Chele Forest, with the lid closed, it doesn't smell at all. I have two greyhounds and an Italian greyhound, which is why I have two - one in active use, the other 'percolating' in peace. Now, despite the presence of bundles of worms, I'm finding that the worms aren't really carting the poo off into the soil. In time, however, I do get a product that I mix with my other compost sources and apply to the garden That bit (forking it out and mixing) does smell a bit, but not for long. Overall, less work than my previous dog poo worm farm, which is why I persist. And more attractive to look at! All in all, I've been composting/worm farming dog poo for 14 years!

    Sandra Stops Sandra Stops 2:32 pm 22 Jul 18

    Jenny Hutchison I have been told not to put dog poo in composter just after dogs have been given worming meds. Have you found this a problem, ie earthworms die too?

    Suzanne Blair Suzanne Blair 4:56 pm 22 Jul 18

    Jenny I’m interested in the poo farm can you direct me in the right place? I’ve 3 cats, 1. Wet active working dog kelpie. I’ve always mixed the duck/goose/chook poop thru the compost and straw into the gardens but never heard of the other. What about the fact they eat meat does that affect it? And the litter which obviously sticks to cat poop does it have to be a certain one. Sorry for all the questions just genuinely interested

Jen Roberts Jen Roberts 10:34 am 22 Jul 18

Sooooo she wants to introduce a foreign species into Australia because of dog poo? How'd that work before, the whole introduction of foreign species!

    Dempsey Anne Dempsey Anne 1:14 pm 22 Jul 18

    Australia has 500 native dung beetle species.

    Gemma Thomson Gemma Thomson 4:23 pm 22 Jul 18

    Hi Jen the CSIRO introduced the species we use in the late 50’s in an incredibly successful program. Native dung beetles evolved with our native species and won’t bury introduced species dung. When you introduce an animal that poops, you have to bring an appropriate dung beetle too otherwise the poo will sit out and breed flies. They’re like natures nappies - you don’t want to leave home without them.

    Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 5:43 pm 22 Jul 18

    Thanks Gemma, I couldn’t have said it better. So are there any beetles that will roll dog do. I don’t imagine any beetle no matter how good will be able to keep up with the amounts in dog parks. Or are you supposed to carry the beetles around with you and drop them on it.

    Morgan Mavourneen Wilson Morgan Mavourneen Wilson 6:46 am 23 Jul 18

    Carrying them around with you is obviously not the intended use. You could talk to your local dog park about getting dung beetles though.

    Gemma Thomson Gemma Thomson 8:14 am 23 Jul 18

    Peter McDonald yes, there are species that happily clean up after dogs. It’s a requirement for people to pick up after their dogs in public. Given how expensive it is to change legislation, we have focused on providing beetles for at home use. But a trial in appropriate spaces like our fenced dog parks is absolutely on the cards if the appetite is right.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter


Search across the site