Wheat

Learn about this local toad that’s really a native frog

The Common Spadefoot Toad is the frog of the month as part of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s (GB CMA) 2022 Year of the Frog community awareness campaign.

The Common Spadefoot Toad is the frog of the month as part of the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s (GB CMA) 2022 Year of the Frog community awareness campaign.

March is breeding season for the Common Spadefoot Toad, one of the frogs that lives amongst the Grey Box Grassy Woodlands in the Goulburn Broken Catchment. These woodlands are a focus of the GB CMA Linking Landscapes and Communities Project which is working with landowners, communities and Traditional Owners to improve this critical habitat.

This project is supported by the Goulburn Broken CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

“Even though its name is ‘toad’, it is actually a frog, as Australia has no native true toads,” GB CMA project officer, Janice Mentiplay-Smith said

“Instead of the foamy mass of eggs we are familiar with, the Common Spadefoot Toad lays its large, jelly-like eggs in long strands in ditches, claypans and depressions in the ground known as gilgais, and dams.

“The eggs are usually anchored to rushes and other submerged vegetation. The tadpoles are darkish and have flecked fins.

“As an adult, this spherical little frog uses its spade-like feet to dig a burrow, where it spends much of its time buried in the soil, waiting for rain. This is a typical adaptation of frogs that must cope with the ‘boom and bust’ of the Australian climate.”

The adult Common Spadefoot Toad is often found in dry woodlands and grassland areas, beneath the soil and fallen logs and timber, demonstrating the need for ‘messy’ areas that contain this precious habitat.  At breeding time, they will seek water.

“Although classified as non-threatened, the Common Spadefoot Toad faces many obstacles in our modified world. Cats and foxes, and even backyard chooks, can easily prey on it and dig it out of the ground,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said.

“Herbicides and pesticides are no friend to any frog, and the devastating Chytrid Fungus is a constant threat. 

“Australia has approximately 240 species of frogs, and no true ‘toad’. The only toad we have in Australia is the Cane Toad, a feral pest imported from South and Central America to Queensland in 1935 as an unsuccessful way to control the cane beetle.

“Some of our native frogs can easily be mistaken for the Cane Toad, so it is worth finding out how to distinguish a native from a feral.”

You can monitor local frogs and detect any calling Cane Toads by downloading the free FrogID app. To learn more about telling the difference between a Cane Toad and one of our lovely native species, visit australian.museum

Throughout 2022, The Goulburn Broken CMA and partners are celebrating the Year of the Frog, featuring a local frog species each month. For more information contact Janice Mentiplay-Smith on 0418 316 169 or email: janicem@gbcma.vic.gov

The Common Spadefoot Toad. Photo Chris Tzaros

Common Spadefoot Toad eggs

Common Spadefoot Toad tadpoles