Why do Frogs Release Large Numbers of Eggs?

Unlike many other animals, frogs release large numbers of eggs during each reproductive cycle. Although they are not the only animals to lay so many eggs, their production is generally higher than most.

Most frog species generally release 100s to 1,000s of eggs, and up to 30,000 eggs in large numbers to balance the high mortality rate frogs experience during their early life stages due to predators, environmental, and biological factors.

In short, laying thousands of eggs is a survival technique that helps frogs live from generation to generation. 

Here is a table of how many eggs frogs lay and how often depending on the species:

Frog SpeciesNumber of EggsYearly Number of Clutches
Poison Dart Frog2-121-4
American Green Tree Frog200-4001
Spring Peeper900-1,0001
Australian Green Tree Frog1,000-2,0001
Common Frog1,000-2,0001
Pacman Frog1,000-2,0001
Northern Leopard Frog1,000-6,0001
Green Frogs1,000 -7,0001
African Bullfrog3,000-4,0001
American Toad2,000-80001
American Bullfrog15,000-25,0001
Cane Toad20,000-30,0001-2

How many eggs a frog lays depends on the species and their environment. Yet, most frogs release hundreds or thousands of eggs once or twice a year. This is much more than most living animals. When you think about it, these numbers are thousands of times higher than the amount of offspring produced by mammals and most other groups of animals. 

Additionally, some frogs can lay two or more clutches of eggs each year. Frogs tend to lay so many eggs, mainly because of the number of external factors that can have a negative effect on the population of frogs. 

Let’s have a closer look at why frogs lay so many eggs.

1. Predators Feed on Frog Eggs And Tadpoles

Frogs are far from the top of the food chain, and so many predators feed off them. Frogs have predators in water with them, in the sky above them, and on the land around them. A large percentage of frog eggs may be consumed shortly after being released, sometimes by the adult frogs that laid them. 

Frog eggs and tadpoles can be eaten by birds like herons, crows, and ducks; reptiles like lizards, snakes, and alligators; big game fish like bass and muskellunge; small mammals like skunks foxes, raccoons, otters, and monkeys, and water bugs, and other frogs.

Consequently, these predators can cause adverse impacts on the frog populations, threatening their existence.

2. Frog Eggs Do Not Have a Shell or Protection

Unlike birds that lay eggs that possess shells and other protective components, frog eggs are naked and bare. Frogs are pretty much completely defenseless as eggs. Eggs cannot move since they are generally clustered together and stuck to vegetation. 

Although frogs generally choose calm water to lay their eggs, the eggs are still sometimes at risk of being swept away by currents if the water rises due to heavy rain. A storm could pull them out of the vegetation to which they are attached and wash them downstream.

Frog eggs are also susceptible to degradation and destruction by factors such as sunlight and dry temperatures. If the water in the pond or around the eggs evaporates, the eggs can dry out and die.

Tadpoles cannot properly defend themselves against predators compared to froglets or adult frogs. Although tadpoles can swim, they can easily be outswum by fish and most aquatic predators. This is one reason why frogs generally chose to lay eggs in ponds with fish (CTNF).

3. Most Adult Frogs Do Not Remain With Their Eggs

Contrary to most mammals, the vast majority of frog species do not remain with their eggs until they become young frogs that can fend for themselves. Most frogs and toads lay their eggs and leave the area where they were released, only to return the next year to reproduce again. This is another reason why frogs lay so many eggs.

Some of the frog species that do lay less than 100 eggs may remain with them until they become tadpoles or froglets. For example, Poison Dart Frogs only lay 2 to 12 eggs per clutch, but they lay them multiple times per year in different temporary puddles to spread out the risk of losing some to predators or external factors. Poison Dart Frogs remember exactly where they left all their tadpoles and feed them multiple times a day. 

Male Darwin Frogs swallow the developing tadpoles and carry them near their vocal sac until they are fully formed. When they are ready, he regurgitates them. This keeps the eggs safe from natural forces and predators. Yet most frogs do not remain with their eggs to protect them, making their young more vulnerable to dying.

4. More Eggs Means More Adult Frogs May Survive

Frogs probably consider that the more eggs they lay, the more chances they have of at least one female and one male surviving in order to continue on the species. If, for example, only 2% of the eggs laid by frogs matured into adult frogs, only about 200 eggs would become adults out of 10,000 eggs.

Therefore, a higher number of eggs would entail a higher number of adult frogs roaming the environment. Laying as many eggs as possible is a natural way for frogs to ensure their survival.

5. Frogs Are Highly Susceptible to Aquatic Conditions

Frogs require clean, freshwater to lay their eggs. Frog eggs are jelly-like, very soft, and unshelled. They absorb the water around them upon being released to form a cluster or a string. Water also provides an essential source of nourishment to the developing embryo. For these reasons, they are very sensitive to the water and direct environment around them.

However, deforestation, urbanization, and pollution are all external factors that can kill developing frogs. The biggest threats that most frog species face are pollution of various types, disease, and overall loss of habitat. Despite differences between geographical locations, these issues have proven to be fairly widespread on a global scale. 

Therefore, you may find frog eggs in your pool if your hose was recently built in a place where frogs used to live. A pool is a terrible place for frogs to lay eggs due to the presence of salts, chemicals, and chlorine. 

A great thing you can do to help with frog conservation is to put a frog pond in your backyard to naturally attract frogs and help them with their survival. Allowing them to spawn and thrive in a safe environment (your yard) can be a great way to observe them in their natural habitat while enjoying their presence.

More About Frog Eggs

Learn more about frog eggs in these guides on our blog:

Common Questions About Frog Eggs

Why do frogs produce a large number of eggs? Most frog species produce a large number of eggs to balance the high mortality rate frogs face as eggs and tadpoles to predators, harsh environmental conditions, and biological factors. Most frog eggs and tadpoles die so laying thousands of eggs is a way to help frogs survive.

Why is it an advantage for frogs to release large numbers? Most frog eggs and tadpoles die so laying thousands of eggs is a way to help frogs survive from one generation to the next. If a frog laid 10,000 eggs and only 2% matured into adult frogs due to predators and environmental conditions, only about 200 eggs survive.

How many eggs does a frog give birth to? Frogs lay 2 to 30,000 eggs deeding on the species. Poison Dart frogs lay 2 to 12 eggs multiple times per year and throughout the year, whereas Cane Toads can lay up to 30,000 eggs twice per year, and Spring Peeper only lay 900 to 1,000 eggs once per year.

About The Author
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.