Cane Toad

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One of the easiest ways to recognise a cane toad is by the very large poison glands on the shoulders, the dry, leathery skin and the thick ridge on the eyelids. Australia has no native true toads, even though some might be called 'toads' because they look a bit like them. Cane toads can grow to 17cm or more, but are generally between 9-13cm in length. They are not strong jumpers and tend to do several short hops as they travel, rather than a long jump.

To the untrained eyes cane toad tadpoles may appear very similar to tadpoles of some native frogs. It is strongly recommended not to remove tadpoles and dispose of them as it is best to control the cane toad by identifying the adult. See large shoulder glands (1) and ridges on eyelids (2).

Cane Toad Tadpoles

Some differences between tadpoles of native frogs and tadpoles of cane toads:

    • Cane toad tadpoles are small and grow to lengths of approximately 3cm
    • Body is uniformly black and only about 1.2 cm in length
    • Eyes are in from side of head
    • Belly (underneath) is dark bluish-black
    • Tail short, not much longer than body
    • Tail muscle black
    • Fins clear, tail tip rounded
    • Cane toad tadpoles are often seen swimming in very large swarms of small black tadpoles.

Cane Toad tadpoles © NQ Dry Tropics Cane Toad tadpoles © NQ Dry Tropics Cane Toad tadpoles © NQ Dry Tropics

Cane Toad Eggs

It may seem an easy way to control cane toads by disposing of their eggs but if not all eggs are removed recent studies have shown that remaining eggs hatch cane toad tadpoles that become healthier, stronger individuals which can do more damage to our native wildlife. Whilst it is safe to remove eggs you think are those of cane toad, in your own garden, before removing eggs from the natural environment elsewhere, make sure you are 100% positive they are cane toad eggs-if not leave them. It is best to give native frogs a chance by controlling cane toads when you can recognise the cane toad by its brow bone and glands.

When you see cane toad eggs, they are in a very large tangled mass of long strands or ropes of eggs in thick jelly. As each female toad can lay 30,000 eggs or more, the sheer numbers of them is often a clear indication that they belong to the cane toad. Each cane toad egg is enclosed within a clear jelly capsule (often arranged in pairs) within a long strand of tough, rope-like jelly.

Cane Toad eggs © NQ Dry Tropics

Related Information

Cane Toad © NQ Dry Tropics 2015

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