Frog of the Week

Northern Spadefoot Toad (Notaden melanoscaphus)

Northern Spadefoot Toad
photo by Robert Whyte

Common Name: Northern Spadefoot Toad
Scientific Name: Notaden melanoscaphus
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog family
Locations: Australia – Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland
Size: 2 inches (5 cm)

The Northern Spadefoot Toad lives in savannahs and grasslands in northern Australia. They are not a technically a “True Toad” member of the family Bufonidae (side note – no species of true toads are native to Australia) but they share many characteristics. Both are short and fat with small hind legs, but the Northern Spadefoot Toad lacks parotoid gland behind in their eyes that contain toxins that Bufonidae toads have.

They spend most of their time underground, only coming to the surface to mate. Mating takes place after heavy rains that fill shallow areas with water. The males call while floating in the pools. Once the female arrives, the male grasps her from behind in amplexus. Then, she lays her eggs and the male fertilizes them. Females lay between 500 – 1400 eggs. Tadpoles take 8 week to complete their metamorphosis.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Northern Spadefoot Toad as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and presumed large population.

Leave a Reply