How Many Eggs Do Frogs Lay?

Amphibians are skillful survivors, adapting physical and behavioral traits to ensure their continuation. One of their most classic traits is laying countless frog eggs during mating seasons, but not all frog species lay the same number of eggs each time. 

Frogs generally lay between 2 and 30,000 eggs per clutch depending on the species and climate. Most aquatic frogs in North America lay between 1,000 and 6,000 eggs once per year, yet a handful of frog species in South America do not lay eggs at all, and give birth to live tadpoles or froglets. 

Below is a list of common frog species and how many eggs they lay on average:

Frog SpeciesLocationNumber of Eggs
Poison Dart FrogSouth America2 – 12
Glass FrogSouth America14 – 30
Black Rain FrogAfrica25 – 30
American Green Tree FrogNorth America200 – 400
African Clawed FrogAfrica500 – 2,000
African Dwarf FrogAfrica500 – 2,000
Spring PeeperNorth America900 – 1,000
Tomato FrogMadagascar 1,000 – 1,500
Australian Green Tree FrogAustralia1,000 – 2,000
Common FrogEurope, Asia1,000 – 2,000
Pacman FrogSouth America1,000 – 2,000
Gray Tree FrogNorth America1,000 – 2,000
Wood FrogNorth America1,000 – 3,000
Northern Leopard FrogNorth America1,000 – 6,000
Green FrogNorth America1,000 – 7,000
Leopard FrogNorth America2,000 – 6,000
African BullfrogAfrica 3,000 – 4,000
American BullfrogNorth America15,000 – 25,000
Cane ToadAustralia25,000 – 30,000

You may notice that many frogs in South America like Poison Dart Frogs and Glass frogs lay very few eggs. However, they can lay eggs 1 to 4 times per year because of the favourable climate they live in. Although such species may lay far fewer eggs than other frog species, they may still lay a reasonable number of eggs per year since they can reproduce more frequently. 

Here is a table of how many clutches these frogs lay per year:

Frog SpeciesNumber of ClutchesNumber of Eggs
Poison Dart Frog1 – 42 – 12
Glass Frog1 – 414 – 30
Black Rain Frog125 – 30
American Green Tree Frog1200 – 400
African Clawed Frog1 – 4500 – 2,000
African Dwarf Frog1 – 4500 – 2,000
Spring Peeper1900 – 1,000
Australian Green Tree Frog1 – 31,000 – 2,000
Common Frog11,000 – 2,000
Pacman Frog11,000 – 2,000
Gray Tree Frog11,000 – 2,000
Wood Frog11,000 – 3,000
Northern Leopard Frog11,000 – 6,000
Green Frog11,000 – 7,000
Leopard Frog12,000 – 6,000
African Bullfrog1 – 23,000 – 4,000
American Bullfrog115,000 – 25,000
Cane Toad1 – 225,000 – 30,000

Poison Dart Frogs, Glass Frogs, African Clawed Frogs, African Dwarf Frogs, Australian Green Tree Frogs, African bullfrogs, and Cane Toads generally live in favourable environments for reproduction year-round and can lay eggs 1 to 4 times per year.

American Green Tree Frogs, Spring Peeper, Common Frogs, Gray Tree Frogs, Wood Frogs, Northern Leopard Frogs, American Bullfrogs, and Green Frogs typically live in climates where hibernation is necessary to survie winter and only lay eggs once per year.

The number of frog eggs laid per clutch generally depends on the frog species and surrounding environment. Frog species living in dry or high latitude, colder climates typically lay eggs once per year, while species living in tropical climates can reproduce multiple times throughout the year. 

Frogs Lay Thousands of Eggs for Survival Reasons

Most frog species generally release hundreds to thousands of eggs, and up to 30,000 per clutch. Frogs lay large numbers of eggs to balance the high mortality rate frogs experience during their early life stages due to predators, environmental, and biological factors.

Laying large numbers of eggs is a classic survival technique, critical to frog survival. Large numbers of eggs generally help balance out the high mortality rate amongst frogs, as there are countless fatalities during their early life stages

Frogs are threatened by many biological factors, environmental issues, and natural predators. Many frog eggs are eaten shortly after being laid. They are eaten by predators roaming waters, skies, and terrestrial spaces. 

While frog species may lay hundreds or thousands of eggs per clutch, only a small fraction of the clutch will live long enough to mature and reproduce in the future.

Based on the observations made during a scientific study, it was found that there was only a 0.1% survival rate from the frog egg phase to maturity (Thurnheer et al. 2000). Scientists have studied frog egg survival rates numerous times, estimating that only around 1 in 50 frog eggs will survive to reach maturity (CTNF).

Most frogs leave their eggs after they are laid, meaning that they have no defense against hungry predators.  As a result, the eggs laid by frog species that care for their young will generally have higher survival rates. Examples of frog species that care for their young include some Poison Dart Frogs and Glass Frogs, who often remain near their frog eggs until they develop into young froglets. 

Not All Frogs Lay Eggs

While using external fertilization and laying eggs is most common across various frog species, a few species do not lay frog eggs at all. However, this does not mean these species do not reproduce, as they simply employ more creative methods for survival.

Such species include those that may house the eggs in the body, eventually giving birth to live tadpoles or live froglets. Although froglets and tadpoles will still face the dangers posed by the environment, they are more equipped to evade such threats compared to the previous capabilities during their helpless zygote state. 

Around one dozen frog species use internal fertilization, although many of these frogs still lay eggs after reproduction.

Scientists are still conducting investigations into their evolutionary reproductive methods, but it is believed that frogs use different methods to increase their survival chances in the wild. The frog eggs are far less vulnerable to natural predators and threats, which are abundant in communal habitats worldwide. 

More About Frog Eggs

Thousands of frog eggs may seem excessive at first glance. But, only a small fraction of these eggs will survive to see adulthood, which is further influenced by parental behaviors, existing dangers in the wild, and environmental conditions. Still, laying frog eggs in high quantities is a classic survival technique, as it has a drastic impact on the species’ overall population and continuation.

Learn more about frog eggs on our blog:

Sources

Sylvie Thurnheer, Heinz-Ulrich Reyer, Spatial distribution and survival rate of waterfrog tadpoles in relation to biotic and abiotic factors: a field experiment Zoological Institute, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland, Corresponding author: H.-U. Reyer.