How Many Eggs Do Toads Lay? (40 Species+ Helpful Charts

Most toads reproduce by laying eggs, usually in clam, shallow, bodies of fresh water. However, some toad species can lay their eggs in brackish water, and others, in relatively fast-flowing streams.

Depending on the species, toads can lay anywhere from 10, to as many as 40,000 eggs at a time. The eggs are usually laid in long strings, along plants, or resting on the pond bottom. Some species such as the eastern narrow-mouthed toad, lay their eggs in a surface film on the water’s surface.

Others, such as the red-spotted toad lay their eggs singly. The small eggs may adhere to each other and form small clusters on the pond’s bottom.

In a few toad species, such as the midwife toads, the males carry the fertilized eggs with them on land, to protect them from predators present in the water.

How Many Eggs 40 Species of Toads Lay

There are over 300 toad species around the world. They live in a very wide range of habitats, from humid forests to mountainous areas, to dry regions.

Different toad species have developed breeding strategies that are practical for the environments they live in.

For this reason, the number of eggs a toad lays can vary, sometimes very widely, between different species.

Some toads, like the Oriental fire-bellied toad, may only lay a few dozen eggs at a time, while large cane toads can lay over 35,000 eggs!

Below is a table that shows approximately how many eggs 40 toad species lay at a time. 

Toad Species
Scientific Name
How Many Eggs They Lay (Approx.)
American toad Anaxyrus americanus 2,000 – 20,000
Fowler’s toad Anaxyrus fowleri 2,000 – 6,300
Western toad Anaxyrus boreas 3,000 -16,500
Cane toad Rhinella marina 8,000 – 35,000
Great Plains toad Anaxyrus cognatus 1,300 – 20, 000
Canadian toad Anaxyrus hemiophrys 3,000 –  20,000
European toad Bufo bufo 1,500 –  5,000
Natterjack toad Epidalea calamita 3,000 – 7,500
Arizona toad Anaxyrus microscaphus 4,000 – 5,000
Southern toad Anaxyrus terrestris 2,500 – 4,000
Colorado River toad Incilius alvarius 7,500 – 8,000
African common toad Sclerophrys regularis 1,500 – 6,000
Mexican burrowing toad Rhinophrynus dorsalis 2,000 – 8,000
Oriental fire-bellied toad Bombina orientalis 80 – 300
European fire-bellied toad Bombina bombina 15 – 40
Wyoming toad Anaxyrus baxteri 6,000 -14,000
Eastern spadefoot toad Scaphiopus holbrookii 1,000 – 2,500
Western spadefoot toad Spea hammondii 300 – 500
North American green toad Anaxyrus debilis 1000 – 1,500
Red-spotted toad Anaxyrus punctatus 1,500 – 5,000
Houston toad Anaxyrus houstonensis 500 – 6,000
Eastern narrow-mouthed toad Gastrophryne carolinensis 500 – 850
Western narrow-mouthed toad Gastrophryne olivacea  600 – 2,000
Yosemite toad Anaxyrus canorus 1,000 – 2,000
Woodhouse’s toad Anaxyrus woodhousii 12,000 – 28,000
Oak toad Anaxyrus quercicus 300 – 500
Arroyo toad Anaxyrus californicus 4,000 – 5,000
Sonoran green toad Anaxyrus retiformis 50 – 200
Great Plains narrow-mouthed toad Gastrophryne olivacea 650 – 2,100
Coastal plains toad Incilius nebulifer 2,000 – 20,000
Great Basin Spadefoot Spea intermontana 300 – 1,000
New Mexico spadefoot toad Spea multiplicata 600 – 1,070
Amargosa toad Anaxyrus nelsoni 3,000 – 6,000
European green toad Bufotes viridis 9,000 -15,000
Common midwife toad Alytes obstetricans 20 – 62
Asian common toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus 6,000 – 40,000
Miyako toad Bufo gargarizans miyakonis 12,000 -14,000
European common spadefoot toad Pelobates fuscus  480 – 3,000
Iberian spadefoot toad Pelobates cultripes 1,000 – 7,000
Syrian spadefoot toad Pelobates syriacus 5,500 – 6,500
In many toad species, female fecundity (capability to produce offspring) is positively correlated with size, so large females may lay more eggs than smaller females of the same species.

Why Do Most Toads Lay So Many Eggs?

Toads (and frogs) lay large numbers of eggs as a natural way to counter the extremely high mortality rates they experience in their early life stages.

Most toads leave their eggs shortly after laying them. This means the eggs (and tadpoles) are vulnerable to predators, and environmental conditions – leading to very low survival rates.

Toad eggs are often preyed on by water beetles, and many other predators present in the water.

Also, sometimes the ponds where the eggs are laid dry up, which kills the developing embryos or the tadpoles soon after they hatch.

Very Few Tadpoles Survive Long Enough to Become Toads

Of the tadpoles that hatch, there will be intense competition for food and limited resources, meaning again the number of tadpoles will naturally thin out.

Many species of tadpoles are even known to eat smaller, vulnerable tadpoles – further reducing the numbers.

When the toadlets leave the water, only a few will live to adulthood and reproduce. The rest will get eaten by predators such as snakes, raccoons, and a wide variety of birds.

Many toads are also run over by cars, or killed by humans in other ways before they ever get to reproduce.

The large number of eggs laid by each toad is crucial to the survival of its species. If just 2 out of 1000 eggs laid become adult toads and live long enough to breed, the population of that species should increase.

How Do Toads Lay Their Eggs?

Most toads lay their eggs in long strings (one to three eggs wide) along plants or resting on the pond bottom. The eggs are covered in jelly and look almost like jelly-coated necklaces.

American toad eggs
American toads mating and laying their eggs. Photo by: Judy Gallagher (CC BY 2.0).
European common toads mating and laying eggs
European common toads mating and laying eggs. Photo by: Henk Monster, CC BY 3.0

Sometimes sediment settles on the egg strands, covering individual eggs and making them look like giant worms.

Eggs of American toads
American toad eggs. Photo by: Judy Gallagher (CC BY 2.0).

Some species, such as the eastern and the western narrow-mouthed toads lay their eggs in small packets that form a single-layered film on the surface of the water.

The eggs look like small, floating dots and may be in small groups or a large raft, depending on how much they have been disturbed.

Eastern narrow-mouthed toad eggs
Eastern narrow-mouthed toad eggs: Photo by: Patrick Coin (CC BY-NC 4.0)

A few toad species, such as the red-spotted toad lay their eggs singly. The small eggs may adhere to each other and form small clusters on the pond’s bottom.

Oak toads lay their eggs singly or in small strands of up to six to eight eggs, either free-floating or attached to vegetation.

Midwife Toads Carry Their Fertilized Eggs With Them on Land, Until They Hatch 

Midwife toads are found in most of Europe and northwestern Africa. In these toads, the males carry the fertilized eggs on their backs, to protect them from predators present in the water.

Common midwife toad
Common midwife toad. Photo by: Phil Benstead (CC BY-NC 4.0)

They keep the eggs moist by lying in damp places during the day and going into the water to swim if there is a risk of the eggs drying out.

When the eggs are ready to hatch, the male will detach them into a calm, shallow freshwater body, where the tadpoles can develop undisturbed.

How Often Do Toads Lay Eggs?

Most toad species lay one or two clutches per year in the warm spring or summer months after heavy rain, but some toad species in some regions can breed year-round.

The breeding season for toads (and frogs) is largely stimulated by rainfall, higher temperatures, and the availability of food. Spring or summer rain creates puddles and fills ephemeral ponds, and other water bodies for toads to lay their eggs in.

How frequently a toad will lay eggs largely depends on the climate it lives in.

For example, Eastern spadefoot toads (Scaphiopus holbrookii) only breed from March to August in the Northern part of their range but can breed during any month in the Southern part as the climate is more favorable.

In favorable weather, eastern spadefoot toads can lay eggs up to 3 times per year. They are also known to sometimes go a whole year without breeding.

Cane toads (Rhinella marina) in Australia are known to breed once or twice per year.

Some Toads Do Not Lay Eggs

While most toad species lay eggs, there are some exceptions. For example, Frontier forest toads (Nectophrynoides frontierei), found in the Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania,

Instead, they retain the eggs inside their bodies until they hatch, and then give birth to young fully-developed toads. This is known as “Ovoviviparity.” 

More About Toad Eggs

Learn more about toad eggs in these interesting guides on our site:

Common Questions About Toad Eggs

Do Toads Die After Laying Eggs? Toads do not die after laying eggs. However, sometimes, toads may drown during mating, or die of exhaustion from the mating activity. This usually happens in very hot, or very cold weather. Also, some toads are killed by predators during, or shortly after mating.

What are Toad Eggs Called? Toad eggs are called “toad spawn”. They are usually laid in long, jelly-covered strings along plants or resting on the pond bottom. Sometimes sediment settles on the egg strings, covering individual eggs and making them look like giant worms.

Photo credit:  Henk Monster, CC BY 3.0