There are fish that lay millions of eggs. The rate at which insects may reproduce is astounding. Some birds seem to be able to handle more eggs than they lay. Not to mention, some species have unbelievable-sized litters!
While 97% of births in humans result in the delivery of a single child, many other species choose to maximize the number of offspring they have by producing dozens, hundreds, thousands, or even millions of infants at once. The top eight amazing animals with the most offspring are listed below.
Chunky gamebirds resembling chickens, gray partridges (Perdix perdix) were brought to North America from Europe in the early 1900s. Even though partridges only live an average of 1.8 years in the wild, these birds make up for it by producing large numbers of offspring.
An amazing 22 eggs can be laid at once by gray partridges. Partridges are lifelong partners who practice monogamy; the male stays close to the nest while the female lays the eggs. Before hatching, the unmarked, buff-colored eggs are incubated in ground nests for 21–26 days. Due to their precocial nature, partridge chicks emerge from the egg with their eyes open and are able to move around shortly after.
7. Naked Mole Rat
The heterocephalus glaber, or naked mole rat, may not be the most beautiful animal, but they are the best at reproducing. These hairless animals can give birth to up to five litters a year, each of which can have up to thirty kids.
As if it weren’t amazing enough, naked mole rats never stop reproducing. They do not lose reproductive potential as they get older, in contrast to other animals. Plus, these rodents live a lot longer than their comparably sized cousins. In captivity, naked mole rats have lived up to 41 years.
Only one female (referred to as the “queen”) of the naked mole rats’ colony has offspring. The rats enjoy long lives and have large litters, so even with a single fertile female, there will be many offspring. almost the course of her 12-year stay, a single, nude mole rat queen gave birth to almost 900 babies in the lab.
6. Tailless Tenrec
The tailless tenrec, or Tenrec ecaudatus, is the largest species in the tenrec family and is native to Madagascar. Of all the mammals, they also have the biggest families—literally. Tenrecs can have up to 32 babies in each of their one to two litters every year.
This many offspring would be too many for most mammals to sustain. The number of pups an animal can nurse to maturity determines the size of its litter. Generally speaking, a mammal’s maximal reproductive capacity is determined by the number of nipples on its body. The maximum litter size is determined by the number of nipples; the average litter size is half that amount.
But the tenrecs have a little known weapon. To feed their many offspring, female tenrecs have thirty-six nipples. Given their ten-year lifespan and ability to procreate at six months old, a female tenrec has the potential to have up to 640 offspring over her lifetime.
5. Hawksbill Sea Turtle
The hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) shares a slender, pointed beak with the bird of the same name. But unlike hawks, only an estimated 20,000 nesting females of these turtles remain in the wild, making them extremely endangered. The females only nest every two to four years, although they can do so three to six times in a season.
Hawkbills, however, make the most of every opportunity to nest in order to make up for this rarity. These turtles return to the beaches where they were hatched to deposit their eggs, sometimes laying as many as 200 eggs in a clutch. Sadly, very few of these young turtles make it to adulthood and are able to reproduce. Survival rates are estimated to be one in 1,000 to one in 10,000. Those that do make it through adulthood typically age between 20 and 35, and they may live to be 60 years of age or older.
There are some differences in the way that parenting is done with seahorses. Male seahorses bear the majority of the parental responsibilities, rather than females. The development and operation of the pouches on male seahorses resembles that of the human placenta. The “pregnant” male seahorse incubates the eggs that the female inserts into this pouch.
How much egg space does this bag have? a maximum of 1,000. While gestation times vary throughout the 46 species of seahorse, they typically range from 10 days to a month. The young seahorses are released into the ocean fully formed after their gestation period is over. The 1,000 newborns are left all alone and self-sufficient after birth. They have a survival rate of fewer than 0.5% and, like many other newborn fish, are particularly vulnerable to predators at this young age.
3. American Bullfrog
The American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), which is widespread throughout most of the country, gets its name from the loud noises it produces during mating season, which resemble a roaring bull. These frogs produce a lot of offspring in addition to generating a lot of noise. And we mean tens of thousands when we say lots.
In ponds, bogs, and lakes during the summer breeding season, bullfrogs can deposit up to 20,000 eggs. The tiny black eggs float on top of the water in a layer due to their translucent protective jelly coating. These huge slabs of eggs and jelly can cover more than ten square feet.
Tadpoles eat the food contained in the jelly until they hatch. The tadpoles hatch after four or five days and start eating the water’s algae. Depending on the climate, the transformation into frogs might take anywhere from two months to three years, depending on the region.
2. Driver Ants
Even though these ants are little, their colonies aren’t! Driver ants are a subspecies of army ants that inhabit massive colonies with up to 50,000,000 ants. When food gets scarce, they move to other areas in marching columns. There is just one queen each colony. Every 25 days, she mates with multiple males and then lays up to three or four million eggs.
The eggs will develop into larvae in ten to twelve days. The larvae transform into pupae after about two more weeks, and the pupae pupate into adults in a further 10–24 days. Worker and soldier ants do not procreate when they are adults.
1. Ocean Sunfish
A really unusual fish has emerged as the top mammal with the most offspring! The strange-looking ocean sunfish, or Mola mola, is a large, bony fish that lives in near-shore waters all around the world. These magnificent fish have a maximum weight of 5,000 pounds. Not only are these fish large in size, but they also lay an enormous amount of eggs.
In a single spawning season, female sunfish can generate up to 300 million eggs. After being released into the ocean, the one-millimeter eggs undergo external fertilization. But after they hatch, life isn’t simple for the little fry. By the time they reach adulthood, only two out of every 300 million eggs will have grown to be 60 million times larger than when they hatched.
In spite of their enormous egg production, the ocean sunfish is declining and their populations have been reduced in some areas due to their low survival rate and accidental culling by fisheries that target other fish species. Consequently, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has designated the species as vulnerable.