Cane Toads

Cane Toad Identification

How to Identify Toad Eggs from Frog Eggs

In Australia at least, toad eggs look nothing like any Australian frog's eggs so they are easy to identify (If you are overseas and have other species in the Bufo genus, you might not be able to tell which species of toad the eggs are.). All Australian frogs lay their eggs in clumps or spreading mats rather than strings. They might be clumps under water attached to a rock or vegetation, a lump of foam (like frothed up laundry soap) on the water's surface, or as a film which spreads across the surface. (Microhylids lay clumps of eggs in soil and would not be readily identifiable to most people as being frog eggs at all, much less confused for toad eggs.)

Cane toads lay their eggs in very long strands of clear jelly, sort of like small black pearls in a long clear plastic tube. These strands can get all tangled up in underwater vegetation so, at first, they might look like the eggs are clumped together, but if you use a stick or rake to try to pick them up, the long strands will hang down and you'll see that they are not clumped at all. If there is nothing underwater for the eggs to tangle onto, then they will sink to the bottom.


Pull the toad eggs out of the water and dispose of them by either putting them into your compost bin, burying them in the garden or leaving them on the lawn to dry in the sun.

In a warm climate, the eggs will hatch in only 24 to 48 hours so a daily vigilence of a pond is necessary to catch them while they are still eggs.


How to Identify Cane Toad Tadpoles from Frog Tadpoles

Looking at the Finer Details: Tadpoles vs. Toadpoles

These can get a little tricky to identify and if you're not sure, we recommend that you leave them alone. If there is any possibility that they might be Australian frog tadpoles, it's better to let them metamorph and then identify them. There are some subtle distinguishing characteristics between toadpoles and tadpoles, however, so if you're good at observing fine details, you'll be able to pick out which is which. (We apologise that some photos are missing - we'll get them included as soon as possible - but we didn't want to hold up the rest of the information in the meantime!)

Do not try to identify toadpoles at night - they change colour at night and look just like Australian frog tadpoles. Here are some daytime differences between toadpoles and tadpoles:

Frog Tadpoles

Cane toad (Toadpoles)


Most species are brown or have blotches, stripes, spots, see-through bits or other markings on the body and tail; the tail fin is visible and usually has some kind of markings or spots

Toadpoles are all black during the day and have a thin, black tail muscle but their tailfins are so clear, it's hard to see them at all unless the toadpole is held up close

Frog tadpoles are smaller than 30mm when they're young but if you see any tadpole longer than 35mm, it's a frog

Toadpoles only grow to about 30mm total length before they metamorph (change into toads)


Frog tadpoles like to shelter under leaves and stay near the bottom, sit in one spot for long periods, swim independently instead of schooling

Toadpoles sit in full sun during hottest time of day; no attempt to hide; often flick tail quickly even when not swimming forward; tend to swarm together in schools, especially along the edges of shallower water


Frog tadpoles when viewed from overhead, the body is oval, round or has an irregular shape


Toadpoles when viewed from overhead, the body is almost diamond shaped


Some frog metamorphs can be less than 10mm but most are bigger and are pale or have markings similar to adults of their species; this one is the Marbled Burrowing frog which also has a black tadpole but it grows up to 80mm long


The metamorph is only 10mm long and is black for the first few days; with a magnifying glass, you can see that the eye has that football shaped pupil and the hard ridge of skin over the eye just like the adult

Make Sure it's the Real Thing

Male and female cane toads are easy to tell apart from each other but somehow, many Australian ground-dwelling frogs are still doomed by golf clubs and vehicle tires/tyres because people don't get close enough to check before they become the executioner.

Female toads have smoother but still warty skin and maroon spots down the back; they do not emit a distress call although they go through the motions of trying to call.
Male toads (right) have a brownish yellow skin which is rough like sandpaper and they emit a machine-gun like distress call when handled.
Both males and females have a hard ridge which goes over the top of each eye and a football shaped pupil edged in yellow; the iris is not a solid colour (like a frog's) but rather dark with splotches of yellow like spattered paint.
Juveniles (lower right) can look nearly attractive, having elaborate patterns of spots and orange or red tips to the warts
All toads look like females until they become sexually mature and then the males change to adult male skin type and vocal capability.

Frog Species

Mistaken Identities

Cane toads

The Ornate Burrowing frog (Limnodynastes ornatus) has smooth skin, only reaches 35mm in length, is very round in shape and does not have the hard ridge over the eye or a gland behind its eyes


Toads get much larger and have a more oblong shape as well as the more piercing look to their eyes and a dry warty skin

The Stoney Creek frog (Litoria leseueri) is often on roads at night but it sits low to the ground and has a pointed snout

(photo to come)

The toad has a blunt snout and sits up at about a 75 degree angle

The Giant Pobblebonk (Limnodynastes interioris) has short legs, a blotchy pattern and gets as big as a typical toad but is has smooth warty skin, no hard ridge over the eye and no paratoid gland


Although its appearance makes many people think it's a toad, cane toads are not yet found in the area where the Giant Pobblebonk comes from which is interior NSW

The Marbled Burrowing frog is very dark and spotted but its skin is smooth and wet and it does not have a hard ridge over the eye


Toads have dry, leathery skin and a hard ridge of skin over each eye

There are other species which can be confused with toads but we don't have the photography for them. If you have a book on Australian frogs, have a look at the following species:

Scarlet-sided Pobblebonk (Limnodynastes terrareginae)
Stonemason Toadlet (Uperolea lithomoda) and all other Uperolea species if you are elsewhere in Australia
Remote Froglet (Crinia remota) and most other Crinia species if you are elsewhere in Australia
Short-footed frog (Cyclorana brevipes) and most of the other spotted Cyclorana species

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