A large round frog with very short legs. The snout is very short with a small downturned mouth. Most are a dull orange, olive-grey or brown upon which there are clusters of raised black tubercles (sometimes tipped with red or yellow) in a longitudinal pattern. The fingers and toes are long and pointed, and the inner metatarsal tubercle is shovel-shaped and unpigmented. Males to 5.8 cm; females to 6.5 cm SVL.
Breeds in temporarily flooded areas of clay or sandy soils.
Males make a loud "whoop" while floating in the water. The vocal sac is large and calling males look as though they are filling up with air with each call. Calls can be heard kilometres away.
The spawn is a large, shapeless clump of over 1000 eggs.
Tadpoles have three upper and three lower tooth rows. Development is believed to be very rapid - less than 1 month to metamorphosis.
Distinguished from the Northern Spadefoot (Notaden melanoscaphus) by the unpigmented inner metatarsal tubercle. When handled, spadefoot frogs will inflate themselves and ooze a yellowy creamy secretion that becomes quite sticky.