If you've ever seen an expectant parent who is approaching their due date, you may have noticed a few things about their condition. Beyond the obvious swollen stomach and an extra 30 pounds or more, parents-to-be struggle with swelling, back pain and all kinds of other challenges that can make pregnancy difficult, if not downright miserable. As tough as it is for humans to make it to delivery, imagine just how much harder it is for many other living things in the wild. Not only does an expectant animal have to find a way to protect itself, which could include trying to run from speedy predators, but it also has to scavenge for food and build some kind of nest out of items it finds lying around.
No wonder some animals evolved to lay eggs instead! By laying eggs, a parent-to-be has the advantage of moving around pretty much unencumbered to hunt for food, protect the nest or escape a bigger creature looking for a meal. It can also get some help from others, who can take turns keeping the eggs warm and toasty when the layer needs some alone time. With the many advantages of egg-laying, however, there are still plenty of animals that produce live babies as well, but do you know which ones? Take our quiz to see if you can identify some of these egg-laying critters.
Name this tuxedo-clad egg layer, which lives almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.
That black and white coloring of a penguin does more than just give it a dapper look; it helps disguise this flightless bird from predators both on land and in the water. These mostly monogamous creatures care for one to two eggs at a time, and parents mostly split the duties involved in keeping the egg warm as it incubates.
Varanus komodoensis is often known as the Komodo Dragon, but of course, it isn't actually a dragon. Do you know its common name?
Komodo Dragon sounds super cool, but this Indonesian egg-laying critter is actually a Giant Monitor Lizard. The largest of the lizard species, it lays around 20 eggs at a time. With a 7 to 8 month incubation period, they take almost as long as a human to prepare for birth. The new babies will be ready to produce their own eggs when they mature around the age of 8.
Whoooo is this bird, which lays its eggs earlier each season than most other birds?
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One of the largest and most common owls in the U.S., the Great Horned Owl can lay between one and six eggs at a time. They take a month to incubate in nests built very high above the ground, and the female owl stays at home to guard the cache while the male hunts for food and brings it back to the nest.
Starting life in a tiny egg is just one of four stages in the life of this fluttery insect. Can you name it?
Butterflies lay clutches of up to a hundred tiny eggs on a leaf. When the eggs hatch, larvae are released in the form of caterpillars. After encasing themselves in a chrysalis, these insects emerge as beautiful butterflies. The process from egg laying to hatching takes just 3 to 5 days, but these insects take much longer than that to actually earn their wings.
Scientists call this critter Gallus gallus domesticus, but do you know what Old MacDonald would call it?
Believe it or not, female chickens don't ever need to run into a rooster to lay an egg. Instead, they are programmed to simply lay eggs in response to light. Each hen can lay an egg every 26 hours or so, and the ones that end up fertilized will become new chicks in around 21 days.
This mammal not only looks weird, but has some strange traits, including laying eggs instead of birthing live young. Know what it's called?
Native to Australia, the Duck-Billed Platypus is one of only five egg-laying mammals alive today. Despite laying eggs, this animal that looks like a duck-otter-beaver combination has other normal mammal traits, including growing body hair and producing milk to nurse its young.
Think you can identify this animal, which has more in common with birds than with reptiles?
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Native to tropical regions all over the world, the crocodile has more in common with birds then reptiles, despite its reptilian appearance. This animal always mates in water, and can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time. All are genderless when laid, and the sex of each animal is determined by the temperature the egg is exposed to during incubation.
More than 4,600 species of this insect walk the Earth. Name this critter that carries its eggs in a sac until they hatch.
Cockroach ancestors have managed to keep on producing new generations for a staggering 320 million years. Females of this species use pheromones to attract a mate. American cockroaches, which may invade U.S. homes, carry a sac filled with as many as 16 eggs. They take one to two months to hatch, and each new roach can start having babies in only 6 to 12 weeks.
Part of the Accipitridae family, what is the common name of this bird, which mates in mid-air then free falls with its partner as the act is complete?
Hawks belong to the family Accipitridae along with eagles and buzzards. These medium-sized birds mate in mid-air, produce up to five eggs, and then incubate the eggs for about a month before welcoming their new baby birdies.
Around 30% of these animals produce eggs rather than live young. Know what they are called?
Around 100 shark species, or 30 percent of all sharks, are egg-layers, according to Live Science. Shark eggs aren't the eggs you're used to seeing, however. Instead, the baby shark develops inside a leathery pouch, with pretty much no attention from the carrier. One unique species is the Bullhead Shark, which lays corkscrew-shaped eggs.
Found on every continent except for Antarctica, name this colony-dweller that can lay hundreds of thousands of eggs at a time.
Like many insects, ants have four basic life stages, including egg, larva, pupa and adult. A single queen can lay hundreds of thousands of eggs at a time, and each one will hatch in just a week or two. In another 3 to 5 weeks, the newly-hatched larvae will become mature ants. Keep in mind that colonies can have more than one queen, which can mean even more mouths to feed.
What smallest of all bird species flaps its wings between 12 and 80 beats per second?
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Measuring no more than five inches long and often weighing less than an ounce, hummingbirds are surprisingly tiny. Despite their size, they lay eggs fairly large in proportion to their bodies. Each female lays two eggs at a time and keeps them warm for two to three weeks before they hatch.
Males of this species have spiral-shaped genitals, which match up perfectly with the corkscrew-shaped organs of the females to produce an egg.
Duck copulation takes just about half a second, but that's long enough for the spiraling mating process to take place and produce an egg. The eggs take between four and five weeks to hatch, and a single duck can lay 50 to 300 eggs per year depending on the species and living conditions.
It would have been a pretty sad film if they never found Nemo. Spoiler alert ... they did. Know what kind of animal he is?
His scientific name is A. ocellaris, but you probably know Nemo better as a clownfish. All members of this species are born male, and can transform to female over time. Monogamous pairs of these fish produce eggs, which the male cares for during the 6 to 8 days they need to hatch.
Scientists call it Apis mellifera, but do you know the name of this egg-laying animal that gets all the buzz?
Honey bees live in hives which consist of one queen, multiple fertile males and a whole bunch of drones who sadly, don't get to take any active part in reproduction. The queen lays 1,500 to 2,000 eggs in a single day, carefully depositing each egg into a single cell within the honeycomb of the hive.
It can run 30 miles per hour and is taller than most humans. Can you identify this egg producer?
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Ostriches can weigh 200 pounds or more and can easily outrun even Usain Bolt. These flightless birds lay eggs in a communal nest, where stronger members of the group leave only the 20 or so eggs that are the most viable. The birds take turns caring for the eggs until they hatch a month to 6 weeks later.
They call them birds in the UK, or bugs in the U.S., but to scientists, these colorful insects are strictly beetles. Name them.
There are more than 6,000 species of so-called ladybugs, which are actually a type of beetle. While many are yellow, orange or red with black spots, others are white, black or some other color entirely. These critters lay tiny yellow-gold eggs, which hatch in just a few days. The ladybug life cycle in only 3 to 7 weeks in total, from egg through larva, pupa, adult and death.
The Peregrine is one member of this bird family, which can dive at speeds of 200 mph or more, according to the Audubon Society. What is its name?
Unlike many other birds of prey, Falcons use their beaks to destroy their catch, while Eagles and many other big birds kill with their strong claws. The Peregrine lays between three and six eggs at a time, and the female keeps them warm during the month or so it takes for the babies to hatch.
American and Chinese are the only remaining species in this animal family, in which a huge majority of the eggs that hatch contain females.
Alligators can weigh 800 pounds or more and stretch in excess of 13 feet long. When they mature between the ages of 10 and 12, these animals lay 35 to 50 eggs, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo. The eggs take 65 days to hatch, releasing baby gators measuring between 6 and 8 inches long.
With the exception of the platypus, this is the only other egg-laying mammal. What is it called?
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The four species of Echidna, or Spiny Anteater, are the only egg-laying mammals except for the platypus. These spiky critters lay their eggs into a built-in pouch on their bodies. The egg takes 10 days to hatch, and once they do, the babies rely on milk to sustain them.
It uses a quick tongue flick to collects scents from the air, then examines the smells using receptors in its mouth. Can you identify it?
The 5,000 or so species of lizards all belong to the reptile family. While these animals lay eggs, they pretty much move on completely after releasing the eggs, leaving the eggs and the hatchlings vulnerable to predators.
Part of the Bufonidae family of animals, what is this critter which lays its eggs in the water?
While toads and frogs are part of the same family, the toad typically can be distinguished by its dry, bumpy skin. After laying its eggs within a strip of gel on the water, the toad waits for between 3 and 12 days for tadpoles to hatch and join the family.
The males of this species carry the eggs until they hatch. Know its name?
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The seahorse belongs to a genus called Hippocampus, which comes from the ancient Greek words for "sea monster horse." When these fish mate, the female lays more than 1,000 eggs into the pouch of the male, who carries them for as long as 6 weeks until they hatch.
No, these insects don't always chow down on the head of their mate, but they do lay 30 to 300 eggs at a time. Can you remember what they are called?
Measuring up to 6 inches long, the five eyes and folded arms of the Praying Mantis give it a very unique look. This insect lays 30 to 300 eggs in a sac called an ootheca, and the eggs take between 3 and 6 months to hatch, according to the Amateur Entomologists' Society.
Which crustacean uses pheromones or vibrations to attract a mate when egg laying time is near?
Ever looked at the underside of a crab? The male's belly has a narrow flap, while the female's belly is covered by a much larger, rounded flap. This rounded flap allows the female to store her fertilized eggs until they are ready to hatch, at which point she releases her larvae into the water to begin their lives.
Name this critter that engages in a practice called stridulation by rubbing its legs together to create noise and attract a mate.
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Grasshoppers are unusual among insects because of a property called hemimetabolism, which basically means they don't have a pupal stage. Females lay pods of up to 150 eggs in late summer or fall, and the eggs hatch into nymphs the following spring. Nymphs grow straight to adults, which means the insects only have three life stages rather than the standard four.
Pick the correct name for this animal that swims upstream when it's time to spawn.
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Salmon females start the spawning process by building nests known as redds in the water. They lay as many as 10,000 eggs per nest, then sit back and wait for the males to fertilize the eggs. Of course, that takes a while, because the males must swim all the way back to the place where they were hatched before they will spawn ... a process which could involve thousands of miles of tough travel.
Which of these animals mates when the male uses one of his eight tentacles to fertilize the female?
Male octopuses die soon after fertilizing a female's eggs, but mom hangs on until the babies are born. After laying 100,000 eggs or more, the female octopus guards her eggs for the 2 to 10 months needed for them to hatch. She never leaves them, not even to eat, and dies of exhaustion when the young are born.
Know the name of this amphibious critter that starts out as a tadpole?
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There are more than 7,000 members of the frog family, almost all of which lay eggs to reproduce. Females lay as many as 4,000 eggs at a time in the water, and after a few weeks, the eggs hatch into tiny swimming tadpoles. Over time, the tadpoles develop legs and take on the traits of the frogs you're familiar with.
When the eggs of this creature hatch, they release miniature adults, not larvae. What is this animal?
Male and female shrimp mate in mere seconds, with the female releasing the fertilized eggs from the "saddle" on her back into her belly. After a few weeks, the eggs hatch very rapidly, releasing tiny adults by the tens of thousands.
Except for the Jackson's species that births live young, almost all members of this animal family lay eggs. Know what it's called?
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There are more than 16 species of chameleon within the reptile family, and almost all of them lay eggs to reproduce. After digging a hole up to a foot deep, females deposit between 2 and 200 eggs, which hatch anywhere between 4 and 12 months later depending on the species. And yes, these critters can change color for camouflage to attract a mate.
Choose the correct name for this venomous creature, which rears up and reveals a hood around its head when angered.
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Part of the Elapidae family, the King Cobra is the only snake that lays its eggs in a nest. Measuring up to 18 feet long, this animal lays 20 to 40 eggs at a time, which take 60 to 80 days to hatch into even more scary and venomous baby snakes.
This amphibian looks like a lizard, but it's actually a different species. Do you know its name?
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Like many other amphibians, salamanders lay eggs in water, with larger members of the family laying fewer, bigger eggs while smaller members lay a larger number of small eggs. All start life as tadpoles but develop some pretty special skills over time, including the ability to regrow lost or damaged limbs.
When her eggs are fertilized, this animal is referred to as "berried," but do you know her common name?
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A female lobster releases pheromones when she is ready to mate, which first requires her to molt. After her hard exoskeleton is off, the male is able to fertilize her eggs, which can number between 5,000 and 100,000. The female holds these eggs hidden under her tail for as much as a year until they hatch, after which they go through as many as 25 molts to reach adulthood.
It might not look like much, but this kills more people than any other animal. Can you name this blood-sucking killer?
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Thanks to malaria and other diseases, mosquitoes are one of the deadliest creatures on Earth. Female members of this insect family lay up to 200 eggs at once, which can hatch in as few as 48 hours. Want to keep the mosquito population down? Eliminate any sources of standing water that you can find, as this leaves them with nowhere to lay their eggs.
Choose the common name for birds in the Columbidae family, which lay between 1 and 3 pure white eggs at a time.
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Pigeons puff their chests or strut their stuff to attract a mate, who they then stay with for life. The female lays between one and three eggs, which hatch in just under three weeks ... which means even more birds to swoop in and steal your food as you're trying to chow down in many big cities.
Though it's non-venomous, this critter can squeeze you to death. See if you can identify it.
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Pythons can be as big around as a telephone pole and weigh more than 200 pounds, according to National Geographic. Female members of this species lay as many as 100 eggs at a time and must contract their muscles repeatedly for months to generate heat in order to keep the eggs warm until they hatch.
What is the name of this gastropod mollusk, which moves at 0.03 mph on average, according to National Geographic?
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Most snails are hermaphrodites, which means that any individual can mate with any other snail, and some are even asexual and can reproduce all alone. Snail eggs hatch in less than a month, and the new babies stay close to mature snails for a few months until they are ready to live on their own.
Scientists call it Anguilla rostrata, but can you name this egg-laying fish that calls the Atlantic Ocean home?
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American eels are a member of the fish family that can grow up to 4 feet long, though males tend to be much smaller than females. They can lay millions of eggs at once, which hatch in only a week or so, releasing larvae that have a leaf-like appearance.
What is the name of this ink-spraying cephalapod?
Squid have soft bodies like an octopus but do have a skeleton of sorts hidden deep within their bodies. While squid reproduction is pretty mysterious even to modern scientists, most squid lay their eggs in communal clumps on the sea floor then simply move on. A few species, such as the Gonatus onyx, have been observed carrying thousands of eggs around with them after mating, dying shortly after the eggs hatch.
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