Cane toad

Native to Central America, southern North America, and northern South America, the cane toad is a large, brown, warty amphibian.

Cane toads were introduced to Australia in 1935 to control agricultural pests. They proved ineffective in this role, but adapted well to the Australian environment and spread quickly. They are now found in Queensland, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Cane toads are voracious feeders that can dramatically reduce populations of native insects, frogs, reptiles and other small creatures. Their skin contains toxic venom that can also kill native predators.

You can support a national toad mapping project by reporting cane toad populations.

The Cane toad is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Bufo marinus or Rhinella marinus

Similar species


  • Large, heavily built toad with body up to 20cm long.
  • Visor or awning extends over each eye; high, angular, bony ridge extends from eyes to nose.
  • Upper skin is brown, olive-brown or reddish-brown, with warts (males have more warts than females).
  • Skin underneath varies from white to yellow, usually mottled.


  • Survives in many habitats, but commonly found in tropical and subtropical lowlands close to freshwater breeding areas.
  • Also found in urban and urban fringe areas, tropical savannas, grasslands, disturbed forests, forest edges, forests with limited understorey, and agricultural areas.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Established throughout Queensland.

Crops affected

  • Lives at least 5 years in wild, up to 15 years in captivity.
  • Mates at any time of year depending on available food and permanent water.
  • Lays eggs in long, gelatinous 'strings', with developing tadpoles a row of small black dots.
  • Single clutch can contain up to 35,000 eggs.
  • Under ideal conditions, toadlets may reach adult size within a year.

Affected animals

  • native fish; frogs; birds; quolls



  • Consumes wide variety of insects, frogs, small reptiles, mammals and even birds.
  • Produces toxic venom from skin glands. Native predators that die after eating, or attempting to eat, cane toads include goannas, freshwater crocodiles, tiger snakes, red-bellied black snakes, death adders and quolls. A total of 75 species of Australian lizards, crocodiles and freshwater turtles are threatened by cane toads, with 16 classed as ‘threatened species’ at federal or state levels.
  • Research in South East Queensland on rainbow bee-eater birds found that cane toad predation caused 33% of nests to fail.
  • Native frog tadpoles can die if they consume cane toad eggs. Cane toad tadpoles can also reduce growth rates of native tadpoles under certain conditions.
  • When an area is first invaded by cane toads, naturally high levels of invertebrates appear to support large toad numbers. As food items are exhausted, toad levels appear to decline. Decline in invertebrate prey that follows toad invasion probably affects other insectivorous predators and may interrupt ecological processes, at least temporarily.


  • Can kill domestic animals if eaten.
  • Can transmit diseases such as salmonella to humans.

Natural enemies

  • Wolf spiders, freshwater crayfish, estuarine crocodiles, crows, white-faced herons, kites, bush stone-curlews, tawny frogmouths, water rats, giant white-tailed rats, keelback snakes.


  • Remove eggs from frog ponds.
  • Kill individual toads using commercial spray from hardware store.
  • Experienced operators may stun and decapitate toads.
  • Construct fences (at least 50cm high) to protect native fish and frog ponds.
  • In semi-arid areas, block access to waterholes.
  • Researchers have successfully mitigated impacts in recently colonised areas by ’training’ predators; however, applying this technique at a large scale is difficult.

See the Cane toad fact sheet (PDF, 3.6MB) for more information.

Legal requirements

  • The Cane toad is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.
Last updated
12 October 2016