Frog or cane toad?

Photo: CSIRO

Frog or cane toad?

As of January 2021 cane toads are still usually only found in QLD and the northern areas of NT and into the Kimberley. But they are on the move so keep an eye out in northern NSW and WA.

Before you decide to dispose of a creature you suspect is a Cane Toad (Rhinella marina), make sure you are not mistaking a frog for a toad. Up to two-thirds of suspected toads turn out to be harmless native frogs.

Learn to Tell a Cane Toad Apart From a Native Frog

There are a number of ways to identify Cane Toads.

A Cane Toad:

  • Has large poison glands behind the ears, which release a poisonous milky substance when the toad feels threatened.
  • Has a pointed bony ‘m’-shaped ridge over their nose. These ridges must meet in the middle.
  • Has visible eardrums.
  • Is usually a dull brownish colour, not green.
  • Is often large – from about 10 cm to 15 cm.
  • Cannot climb smooth surfaces like some native frogs can.
  • Doesn’t have suckers on the end of its toes like some native frogs.
  • Male makes a guttural trill call

It may look similar to some native frogs because it:

  • Has dry, rough skin like sandpaper, but native frogs are generally moist and slippery.
  • Has webbed back feet, but large burrowing frogs‘ hind feet are unwebbed so that they can dig into the ground and bury themselves.
  • Has a short, broad snout, whereas native frogs often have a longer, more pointed snout.


Some native frogs that are sometimes mistaken for cane toads include:

Ornate Burrowing Frog or other types of Burrowing Frogs

Eastern Banjo Frog


What to do if you have found a cane toad

If you think you have found a cane toad you should report it to your local council or the appropriate government department in your state.

You can use the ToadScan website to report a sighting. ToadScan is part of the FeralScan initiative supported by the Australian Government and is used to report sightings to a number of state government departments.

NSW: Department of Primary Industries

VIC: Department of Agriculture

QLD: Business Queensland – Agriculture

NT: NT Government – Environment

WA: Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development

SA: Department of Primary Industries and Regions