As a kid, I loved going out looking for toads and always thought it was very easy to spot toad eggs. Compared to frog eggs, fish eggs, and salamander eggs, toad eggs stand out with quite a few remarkable differences.
Toads lay eggs in small bodies of water with very little movement, like ponds and marshes. Toad eggs are easy to distinguish from frog eggs because toads lay eggs in strings whereas frogs lay eggs in large clusters.
This article covers everything there is to know about toad eggs from key differences with frog, salamander, and fish eggs, as well as how many they lay, how they evolve, and what to do if you find toad eggs.
Where Can You Find Toad Eggs?
Toads lay eggs in water and generally prefer marshes, swamps, bogs, fens, and ponds. You can generally find toad eggs in permanent bodies of slow-moving water near places where you can find adult toads. Toads only go to the water to reproduce during mating season.
Contrary to aquatic or tree frogs, toads are terrestrial and live most of their lives on land. Frogs lay their eggs in similar locations to toads, but aquatic frogs spend most of their time in water. Toads lay their eggs in water, but you will only find adult toads sitting in water during mating season to reproduce. Otherwise, toads are fairly solitary and spend their time on land.
Difference Between Frog Eggs And Toad Eggs
Toads lay eggs in long parallel strings, while frogs lay eggs in large clusters. Toad eggs may look like a string of beads, whereas frog eggs may look like a big bunch or blob of water-soaked chia seeds.
Toad tadpoles are also noticeably different from frog tadpoles once they transform. Frog tadpoles have golden speckles on their bodies, whereas toad tadpoles are generally all dark brown or black.
Toad eggs and their tadpoles are poisonous since all toads are poisonous. Not all frogs are poisonous so not all frog eggs or tadpoles are poisonous. Having poisonous eggs and tadpoles can provide toads with a certain survival advantage over frogs.
Temperature can also affect toad eggs, how well and how fast tehy develop depending on the time of year they are laid, the depth of the water, and which species lays them. Toad eggs may develop faster than frog eggs because they are laid in shallow water that heats quicker than the deeper water where frogs lay eggs.
A study (King, 1903) found that the optimal temperature for one frog species’s eggs to develop is 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F) depending on the stage of development and time of year, whereas the toad species in the study lays their eggs in shallow pools of water that heat up easier, so their eggs can withstand higher temperatures around 28°C (82°F).
Toad tadpoles are also noticably different from frog tadpoles once they transform. Frog tadpoles have golden speckles on their bodies, whereas toad tadpoles are generally all dark brown or black.
Difference Between Salamander Eggs And Toad Eggs
Toad eggs are visibly different from salamander eggs. Salamanders lay their eggs in masses whereas toads lay them in strings. Unlike toads, salamanders lay their eggs in small groups which are firm to the touch. Salamanders only lay around 50 to 250 eggs, whereas toads can lay up to 30,000.
Therefore, salamander eggs and toad eggs differ in appearance and in quantity. They also differ in texture since toad eggs do not form a large mass hard to the touch. Toads can also lay much more eggs than salamanders.
Difference Between Fish Eggs And Toad Eggs
Fish eggs are laid individually, generally attached to underwater structures like rocks, shells and plant life, whereas toad eggs are laid in ribbon-like strings and generally float near the surface of the water.
Therefore, you should be able to tell the difference between toad and frog eggs fairly easily. If the eggs are in strings at the top of the water, they probably belong to toads. But if they are laid individually at the bottom of the water, they may belong to fish.
Fish are predators to toads so toads may try to avoid places with fish altogether. If you have a frog friendly pond in your yard remember that fish and will gladly eat toad eggs. It’s best to not keep fish and toads or frogs together. I helped my parents make the pond in their yard and I’m glad they did not add fish since the pond naturally attracted frogs.
How Many Eggs Do Toads Lay?
Toads can lay 2 to 30,000 eggs in strings up to 60 feet long. American Toads can lay 2,000 to 8,000 eggs, and Cane Toads can lay up to 30,000. Toads develop as tadpoles in water, then live on land and only return to the body of water where they were born during mating season to reproduce.
When a female releases the toad eggs into the water in the form of egg strings, they can extend 20 to 60 feet in distance. The strings can contain a few to multiple thousands of eggs depending on the species. For example, Cane Toads can lay up to 30,000 eggs twice a season, contributing to making them invasive species in many parts of the world. Whereas American Toads lay only 2,000 to 8,000 eggs once per season.
Although they can extend for many feet, sometimes toad egg strings generally coil up after they are released. The sometimes curled formation occurs so if the eggs become lodged into surrounding natural vegetation. This can help the eggs anchor down and avoid being washed away.
Do Toad Eggs Turn into Tadpoles?
Toad eggs generally develop into tadpoles if the appropriate conditions are met. However, some eggs may not transform into tadpoles and die for a number of reasons including being eaten by predators, diseases, or lack of sufficient oxygen in water.
Most frogs have a similar life cycle, and reproduce by amplexus. When a male and female toad reproduce, the male frog holds the female frog in an amplexus position and fertilizes the eggs as she releases them into water. When the right conditions are met, all toad eggs become tadpoles.
Although the vast majority of toads follow the abovementioned life cycle, some toads are born differently. Here are some interesting exceptions to the common toad life cycle:
- The Gastric-Brooding Frog swallows their eggs and lets them gestate inside their bodies. Once they have transformed from tadpoles, baby toads jump out of the adult toad’s mouth.
- Another type of toad, the Surinam toad that can be found in South America, lays its eggs but they develop into tadpoles on their back and leave once they are froglets.
How Long Does it Take for Toad Eggs to Turn into Tadpoles?
It typically takes 3 to 25 days for toad eggs to transform into toad tadpoles. However, the speed of the toad life cycle stage from egg to tadpole depends on various factors including climate, water temperature, time of year and species.
In ideal conditions, toad tadpoles generally can hatch within a few days. This typically occurs when the water temperatures are warmer, as this is more conducive to the development process. However, it can take up to 25 days before they become tadpoles in some cases.
At the very beginning of the tadpole stage, toads can only perform basic actions and only breathe underwater through their gills. They develop by feeding on algae, and decaying vegetation. Toad tadpoles eventually grow larger and longer, their hind legs and two front legs form, and their gills are eventually replaced with lungs.
At the toadlet stage, the tadpole’s tail is absorbed into the body, and the toad tadpole fully morphs into a toad that can climb onto land. The entire process from egg to tadpole to toad takes several weeks, and they become adult toads capable of reproducing in two to four years depending on the species.
Learn more about the frog life cycle in this dedicated guide on our blog.
What To Do If You Find Toad Spawn
If you ever stumble upon toad spawn, it’s important to be mindful of the risks human intervention could have. Toad eggs, tadpoles and baby toads are incredibly fragile during this phase of their development, and any changes to their environment could pose potential harm or death.
Of course, if you find them on your property, it can be somewhat perplexing – perhaps concerning, especially since toads are poisonous to pets, and some to humans. However, some toad species are protected, and their wellbeing should be prioritized.
Do not intervene or move the toad spawn yourself, as it could pose harm to the toads, your family or to yourself. Contact your local wildlife department, as they will advise you by providing specific instructions or by handling the situation to ensure the safety of everyone.
Here are some phone numbers you can call to get information about what to do with toad eggs depending on your location:
|Canadian Wildlife Service||Canada||1-800-668-6767|
|U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service||USA||1‑800‑344‑WILD|
|Department of Biodiversity, Conservation & Attractions||Australia||(08) 9219 9000|
|Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs||UK||03459 33 55 77|
More About Toad Eggs
Toads are undeniably fascinating creatures, with interesting habits and adaptations to their habitats. With knowledge of their reproduction processes and development, it should be fairly easy for you to now tell toad eggs apart from other species.
Here is some more awesome content about toads and frogs on our blog:
- Do Frogs Lay Eggs?
- Where Do Frogs Lay Their Eggs?
- Frog Eggs: Everything There is to Know
- How Frogs Reproduce: Everything There is to Know
- What is The Life Cycle of a Frog?
- 15 Frog vs Toad Differences
- How to Attract Toads To Your Garden
- How to Move Toads Out of Your Yard
- Frog Urine / Pee: Everything There is to Know
- What Types of Toads Can You Find in Canada?
Common Questions About Toad Eggs
What are Toad Eggs Called? Toad eggs are called toad eggs or toad spawn, or toad spawn. Toad eggs do not hatch like chicken eggs, but rather transform throughout the toad life cycle into tadpoles, toadlets, and then into adult toads. Toad eggs feed off the yolk in their egg until they develop mouths to eat algae.
Do Toads Lay Eggs? Toads lay eggs which are embryos laid by a female toad, simultaneously fertilized by a male frog during reproduction. The resulting toad zygote goes through cell division and embryonic development to later transform into an egg and a tadpole.
Do Toads Die After Laying Eggs? Toads do not die after laying eggs, however, depending on the number of frogs mating, the size of the water pool, and amount of predators, toads may die during or after reproduction due to external circumstances. Generally, they may be eaten, attacked by other frogs, or drown during amplexus.
King, H. 1903. The Effects of Heat on the Development of the Toad’s Egg. Biological Bulletin, 5(4), 218-232. doi:10.2307/1535737
Oliver, J. 1955. The National History of North American Amphibians and Reptiles. Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Company. Inc.
Hassinger, D. 1970. Notes on the Thermal Properties of Frog Eggs. Herpetologica, 26(1), 49-51. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3891326
King, R., M. Oldham, W. Weller, D. Wynn. 1997. Historic and current amphibian and reptile distributions in the island region of western Lake Erie. American Midland Naturalist, 138 (1): 153-173
Bókony, V., Üveges, B., Móricz, A. M. & Hettyey, A. Funct. Ecol. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.12994 (2017)