Abstract Spawning sites are a critical and often scarce resource for aquatic-breeding amphibians, including invasive species such as the cane toad (Bufo marinus). If toads select spawning sites based on habitat characteristics, we can potentially manipulate those characteristics to either enhance or reduce their suitability as breeding sites. We surveyed 25 spawning sites used by cane toads, and 25 adjacent unused sites, in an area of tropical Australia recently invaded by these feral anurans. Water chemistry (pH, conductivity, salinity, turbidity) was virtually identical between the two sets of waterbodies, but habitat characteristics were very different. Toads selectively oviposited in shallow pools with gradual rather than steep slopes, and with open (unvegetated) gradually sloping muddy banks. They avoided flowing water, and pools with steep surrounds. In these respects, cane toads broadly resemble previously studied toad species in other parts of the world, as well as conspecifics within their natural range in South America.