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Do Toads Have Tadpoles?

It is well-known that most amphibians begin their life cycles in water. But, there are some differences and individual cases where certain species do not transform into tadpoles. This has led many animal lovers and amphibian enthusiasts to wonder if toads have tadpoles like frogs and other amphibians.

Most toad species lay eggs, which develop into tadpoles within a couple days or weeks. These tadpoles typically metamorph into mature toads over time, but this method generally depends on the species. Some rare toad species directly give birth to live toadlets. 

Toads typically follow reproduction methods similar to other amphibians such as frogs. They generally mate during breeding season, get into amplexus, and lay fertilized eggs in suitable aquatic spaces, such as shallow and unpolluted water bodies. After some time, the fertilized toad spawn will transform into toad tadpoles.

Although most toads start off as tadpoles, many factors contribute to differing reproduction methods. Toads adapt to their environments, and they may utilize other reproductive methods where necessary. Join us as we discuss how toads have tadpoles and when their reproductive methods may differ. 

Toad Tadpole Development

Toad eggs generally take a 3 days to transform into black toad tadpoles. Although, the timeframe between the zygote stage and newborn tadpole phase depends on the species and overall environment. Various factors contribute to faster growth, such as higher humidity levels and warmer temperatures. 

The tadpoles begin their developmental journey as fully aquatic creatures, using gills for breathing and tails for mobility underwater. These physical traits fade over time, as they are replaced by common toad features such as robust legs and lungs. These physical features allow the toadlets to adopt the terrestrial lifestyle of adult toads. 

What Toads Look Like Eggs-min
Toad With Eggs in Strings

Toad tadpoles typically follow similar diets and habits to frog tadpoles. They generally follow herbivore diets during the early phases, consuming aquatic vegetation and natural debris. Many toad tadpoles may adopt an omnivorous diet during later tadpole phases as they prepare to transition into a carnivorous lifestyle on land. 

As a general rule, toad tadpoles take approximately 16 weeks to transform into toadlets capable of living on land for longer time frames. However, many developmental factors may concern the inherent genetics of specific toad species, as some species mature faster than others.

Many characteristics specific to the species are still present in varying degrees during the tadpole stage. For example, toad tadpoles will still carry the same toxins as their parents in lesser quantities, contributing to higher survival rates. Toad tadpoles can still cause intoxication or poisoning within predators or pets after consumption. 

When Can Toad Tadpoles Live On Land?

Toad tapoles can generally live on land after 16 weeks or once they have developed legs, feet, and lungs. By this time their body has absorbed their tails and they can hop and breathe on land.

Toad tadpoles are generally ready to transition to the life of a semi-terrestrial toadlet during the summer, where they will begin hunting for small invertebrates such as flies and spiders. 

Difference Between Frog and Toad Tadpoles

There are quite a few obvious differences between toad spawn and frog spawn. Toad eggs are black and are typically laid in stringy double rows which float around, whereas frog eggs are laid in gooey clumps and typically latch onto aquatic vegetation. 

However, discerning between toad tadpoles and the young of other amphibian species can be tricky as they are typically quite similar in terms of their physical appearance. Still, there are a few key factors to watch out for as toad tadpoles have some unique characteristics concerning their color, shape, and pattern. 

Characteristic Frog Tadpoles Toad Tadpoles
Color Brown or BlackBrown or Black
ShapeSlim Chunky 
PatternGolden SpecklesNone
Tail Long, ThinShorter
Head Small HeadBulky Head

The differences between frog tadpoles and toad tadpoles are closely linked to the natural differences between adult frogs and toads. The basis of these variations can be compared to adult counterparts, such as frogs having slimmer body shapes and toads having rounder body shapes once they mature. 

Do All Toads Have Tadpoles?

While having tadpoles is most common for toad species, there are few cases of toads utilizing other reproduction practices. Some toads may have evolved and adopted certain practices to increase survival rates or in response to harsh environments or environmental change due to habitat loss, pollution, climate fluctuations, threats, and much more.

Although breeding and laying eggs in water bodies are ideal conditions for toads, not all toad species can have tadpoles (such as some African toad species) and instead find ways to skip the tadpole phase entirely. These conditions are often experienced by toads living in dry or mountainous regions where water bodies are not appropriate for toad tadpole development. 

Some toads have adapted to lay eggs in saltwater. In other cases, toads lack water bodies entirely. But, certain toad species may only have access to fast-flowing rivers and streams near waterfalls or mountainous waterways. Some species may also choose to avoid aquatic spaces that are heavily populated by potential predators. 

Some toad species lay fertilized toad eggs on land, often using moist soil and natural debris to protect the eggs during development. After some time, miniature toadlets will ‘hatch’ from these toad eggs compared to the typically observed ‘transformation’ from fertilized zygote to toad tadpole. 

For some toad species, even laying eggs on land is still too risky for their young. A couple of toad species are known to house their fertilized eggs inside the body while their babies develop. The toads will give birth directly to live toadlets once they are ready to live on land.

Do All Toads Have Tadpoles?

Although most toads lay fertilized eggs in water, which later transform into tadpoles, this is not the only practice applicable for reproduction (CTNF). Toads are avid survivors, capable of evolving and adapting to their surroundings, and their habitat’s characteristics greatly influence their reproductive methods. Some toad species have adopted unique reproduction methods to ensure species continuity over time. 

Learn more about toad tadpoles on our blog:

Daniella Master Herpetologist

Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.