Crucifix toad

Unlike most frogs that love hopping around on lily pads, this one spends most of its life underground, a real dirt dweller

JJ Harrison

Crucifix toad


Unlike most frogs that love hopping around on lily pads, this one spends most of its life underground, a real dirt dweller


A captivating amphibian that calls the sandy and rocky areas of Western Australia its home. This unique toad is best known for its striking appearance and intriguing behavior. The Crucifix toad has a robust, rounded body that is predominantly a sandy color, blending seamlessly with its natural habitat. This coloration is not just for beauty but serves as a crucial camouflage against predators. The most distinctive feature of this toad, from which it derives its name, is the pattern on its back. The pattern resembles a cross, outlined in a darker shade than its light, sandy body, creating a striking contrast that catches the eye.

The Crucifix toad leads a mostly secretive life. It is a master of disguise, not only in color but also in behavior. It burrows deep into the sand during the dry, harsh conditions typical of its desert-like environment. Here, it enters a state of dormancy known as estivation, which allows it to survive long periods of dryness and heat. This fascinating adaptation ensures that the Crucifix toad conserves moisture and maintains a lower metabolic rate to survive until conditions improve.

When the rain comes, the landscape of the Crucifix toad’s habitat transforms, and so does the toad’s activity level. The moisture and cooler temperatures of the wet season signal the toad to emerge from its sandy refuge. This is also a time of social interaction and reproduction for these amphibians. They gather around temporary pools formed by the rainfall, where their calls can be heard echoing through the night. The male Crucifix toad’s call is particularly noteworthy—a low, long trill that serenades the females and rivals the noises of the more typical nocturnal wildlife.


Population est.
Official estimate
New South Wales, Queensland

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No