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 - what they look like

  • 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.

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Some Differences Between Tadpoles of Native Frogs and Tadpoles of Cane Toads

Eyes of many native tadpoles are at the sides of head or just inside edge of head, whilst those of cane toad tadpoles are a bit more towards the middle of the head.

Belly of native tadpoles is most often opaque silver or copper, while that of cane toad is dark bluish-black.

Ornate Burrowing Frog Tadpole - an exception

Eyes well in from side of head similar to cane toad but this tadpole has a silvery-copper belly, brown back often with broad patches and can grow larger than cane toad tadpoles (sometimes up to about 4.8cm). Unlike the cane toad tadpole, it is never black above or on the tail.

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Marbled Frog - a very dark native tadpole, but...

  • Grows much larger (to 8cm)
  • Tail much longer than body
  • Eyes almost on side of head
  • Body usually dark brown to black, occasionally lighter brown if in muddy water, or as they begin to change into a frog
  • Fins dark, tail tip narrowly rounded
  • Belly dull silvery-copper.