Crucifix Toad Fact File

Notaden bennetti

Credit: Tnarg 12345 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons













Conservation Status


Least Concern

A Rarely Seen Frog!

The crucifix toad is actually a frog despite its name. Found in Australia they spend the majority of their day below the ground before emerging to find food and a mate following heavy rains.

Their name is taken from a pattern of spots across their back which resemble a cross.

These animals feed on a range of small insects. They secrete a sticky substance from their skin which insects become stuck to and once they shed their skin they will eat it and any attached insects.

They are threatened by the over extraction of water from the floodplains on which they rely.

Read on to learn more about these amazing amphibians.


What does the Crucifix Toad look like?

Unlike most other species of frog which are patterned with dull colors that help them blend in with their environment this species has a bright yellow back. This bright coloration is an example of aposematism which is using bright colors to warn predators.

Some individuals have a lighter green or brown background color covering the body but still feature the cross.

Their name is taken from the cross pattern formed by a range of orange, light green and brown spots across their back. This sits within the center of their back.

These measure 4.5 to 6.5cm (1.8-2.6in) long.


How does the Crucifix Toad survive in its habitat?

The crucifix toad will secrete a milky substance known as 'frog glue.' If a predator attempts to eat them they will get a mouth full of this goo which will make them think twice about eating them.

Small species such as ants or flies which attempt to bite them will become stuck to their skin.

These frogs have short limbs giving them a round appearance. By having short limbs they are able to reduce the surface area available to lose water through.

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What does the Crucifix Toad eat?

Crucifix toads are carnviores. They feed on a range of insects and their larvae.

These frogs have been observed to engage in luring behaviors, the only Australian frog species in which this has been observed. They will wiggle their toes and hope that food is attracted to this.

Learn more about the Crucifix Toad in this video from the Australian Museum on YouTube


Where do you find the Crucifix Toada?

Australia is the native home of the crucifix toad. Here they are found in Queensland and New South Wales.


Where can the Crucifix Toad survive?

These frogs are found in semi-arid grassland areas and the black soil plains found in Queensland.

Crucifix toads will seek out burrows in which they can shelter. These may reach between 2 and 3m (6.5-8.4ft) deep in to the ground. They will only leave their burrow following bouts of heavy rain.

They are able to dig their own burrow using the spade like appendages on their feet.

While within the burrow they will form a protective cocoon around their body which helps to keep their skin protected against drying out.

Crucifix Toad (Notaden bennetti)

Credit: Mr tuba man88, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


How does the Crucifix Toad produce its young?

Breeding is quick with the crucifix toad only having six to eight weeks once they emerge to complete their life cycle. It will occur sometime between spring and autumn when the rains take place.

Males will float in temporary pools and call in attempts to attract a mate. His call is a 'hoo' sound which has been likened to the call of an owl.

Females will deposit their eggs in to the water which are then fertilized externally.

The young are known as tadpoles. Their skin is copper colored.

Young must develop quickly in preparation to metamorphose in to an adult so they can burrow in to the ground.


What does the Crucifix Toad do during its day?

As they grow the crucifix toad will shed its outer lay of skin which is replaced by a new layer underneath. Once they have removed the old skin they will eat it including any insects which have become stuck to it.

Following heavy rain they will leave their burrows and begin to mate and feed.

Crucifix Toad (Notaden bennetti)

Credit: Kym Nicolson, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What stops the Crucifix Toad from surviving and thriving?

No estimates of the population of the crucifix toad have been made. The species is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Tadpoles may be affected the presence of cane toad tadpoles in their waterways which can inhibit their growth.

These animals rely on water and as such the over-extraction of water from floodplains could cause a future decline.

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Quick facts

The crucifix toad is not actually a toad, they are a species of frog. These animals are also known as the holy cross frog or Catholic frog.

Scientists are researching the sticky goo produced by the crucifix toad in hopes it can be used to create a non-toxic adhesive which can be used in medical applications.

This amphibian is widely regarded as a frog but shares features with both the male and female.

The crucifix toad was first described for modern science during 1873.

Crucifix Toad (Notaden bennetti)

Credit: Tnarg 12345 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Crew, B., 2021. Creatura. 1st ed. Terrey Hills, NSW: Australian Geographic.

Bush Heritage Australia. 2022. Holy Cross Frog - Bush Heritage Australia. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 19 March 2022].

Jean-Marc Hero, Ed Meyer, Peter Robertson, Frank Lemckert, John Clarke. 2004. Notaden bennettiiThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2004: e.T41182A10409412. Accessed on 19 March 2022.

The Australian Museum. 2022. Crucifix Frog. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 19 March 2022].

CRAMPTON, L., 2021. The Strange Crucifix Frog or Holy Cross Toad: Amphibian Facts. [online] Owlcation. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 March 2022].

Frogs of Australia. 2022. Notaden bennetti. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 19 March 2022].

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