Axolotls are different and unique in so many different ways. So much so that it’s only natural to question the traits, behaviors, and biological processes that govern the species, or that they share with other amphibians, or even us. One such interesting area, in particular, is how they breed; how do these salamanders reproduce? Let’s find out!
And more specifically, do Axolotls lay eggs? Axolotls do lay eggs and typically lay between 1000-1500 at a time. They will only do so after breeding with a male, which naturally takes place in response to changes in water temperature and daylight. Generally, axolotls will lay their eggs between 12 and 72 hours after breeding.
Female axolotls will only lay eggs under certain conditions.
Important to know if you intend on keeping them; particularly if you are considering a male and a female, or introducing the two.
The truth is, breeding axolotls comes with many challenges and many considerations.
For most owners, it is unlikely something that they will even consider.
But just because it requires some planning and thought, does not mean it cannot be done.
And with a little knowledge and experience, is a repeatable process.
Nevertheless, let us now take a closer look at the process of egg laying in these smiley salamanders.
That way, you’ll know exactly how they reproduce and what to expect, if they did.
Do Female Axolotls Lay Eggs Without A Male?
Female axolotls will not lay eggs without a male present. While it has been known for a female to do so, this is the exception rather than the norm. In such instances, there will only ever be a small amount, and they will be unfertilized too.
And here is why:
Eggs are the result of a male and a female axolotls successfully breeding.
And it’s an interesting process to watch and observe.
When looking to breed, a male and female will come together in a very particular way.
It all begins with the male.
He will slightly nudge the female with his nose; indicating he is ready to mate.
The male will then proceed by placing himself before her, leading her around (she will only follow if she is willing and able). This process is sometimes referred to as ‘courtship’.
As the male moves forward, he will deposit his sperm (spermatophore).
The female axolotl will then be lead over them, and will collect them through her cloaca.
This process will continue, as the male lays down more spermatophore and the female picks up various deposits for a period of several hours.
The laying of eggs will then occur between 12 and 72 hours after.
So as we can see, reproduction in axolotls is a very active, intended process.
How Often Do Axolotls Lay Eggs?
Axolotls will naturally lay their eggs multiple times per year; December through to June is a particularly fruitful breeding season. The earlier months of the year are known to be more conducive to egg production.
That being said, axolotls can breed at any time of the year, given the right conditions (that we will soon look at in the next section).
Female axolotls can also lay their eggs almost continuously if kept together with a male, although this should not be encouraged.
Producing eggs is a highly energy expensive process; placing great stress on an axolotls system and metabolism.
So much so that when reproducing, this process takes priority over other important bodily functions, including general body growth.
It is for this reason that an axolotl should be given adequate rest and recuperation in between breeding cycles.
Besides, a female will and can produce new eggs immediately having successfully laid their existing clutch.
When Do Axolotls Start Laying Eggs?
Axolotls will start laying eggs when they reach sexual maturity and in response to a change in conditions (water temperature and day length).
Of course, this is all assuming a male and a female come together and decide to breed.
Let us now take a closer look at each factor below:
An axolotl needs to be of sufficient age to be able to reproduce.
Sexual maturity can happen as early as 6 months, but it can also take several years for them to develop in this way.
This is because reaching sexual maturity requires access to a high-quality diet and optimal conditions.
Nevertheless, it is generally not advised that an axolotl is bred while still young.
Most recommendations will state that it is best not to breed a female axolotl until they are at least 18 months of age, or of sufficient size (at least 7 inches in length).
That will ensure that they are sufficiently developed, and prevent any unnecessary stress while still young that could impact their health and longevity.
That being said, male axolotls can be bred much younger, if desired.
Axolotls will breed when the conditions are suitable for them to do so.
For this reason, seasonal changes; both in water temperature and day length (amount of daylight) that will cause these salamanders to breed.
In the wild, this generally occurs during the late winter and early spring.
If being kept in captivity, a change in water temperature can induce breeding (whether intentional or not).
Cooler temperatures, around 5 °C lower than the typical aquarium climate, is usually enough to begin the process. This typically looks at an aquarium temperature of between 54-57 ° Fahrenheit (12-14 °C).
Light changes will occur naturally in the wild.
In captivity, light changes will likely occur if there is any window in the room the axolotls are being kept.
Where Do Axolotls Lay Their Eggs?
Axolotls will lay their eggs in plants and other vegetation that is available to them. Otherwise, they will lay their eggs when and where they can.
In the wild, an axolotl will not have any issue finding such places.
But in captivity, and if being purposefully bred, this is why it comes strongly advised to provide plants and other aquarium décor.
This will allow the female to safely deposit her eggs, and this is a much more conducive area for successful hatching.
In instances where plants are not available, an axolotl will look to lay her eggs on flat surfaces.
If your axolotl lays eggs, it’s important that you safely remove them and transfer them to a separate container. Otherwise, it is likely that the eggs will be eaten. Just be sure that the female has finished laying; considering they can take up to 72 hours to lay their full clutch.
When it comes to the transfer, you can do so with your bare hands.
Just be sure that you have fully cleaned them first, and you do not inadvertently transfer any chemicals to the aquarium from any products you may have used.
Thankfully, axolotl eggs are relatively tough and resilient; so are unlikely to break during the transfer.
Caution should still be exercised, mind.
If eggs are still attached to plants, for instance, it makes more sense to transfer the entire plant with the eggs still attached.
For the container you transfer the eggs to, it’s essential that you place this in a safe place and consider the temperature of the water.
The temperature of the water will dictate how fast the eggs will hatch.
For instance, if you want to delay the hatching, keep the water at around 57-64° Fahrenheit (14-18° degrees Celsius).
This should buy you some time. Up to 7-8 days, in fact.
At the same time, for faster hatching, having warmer water (around 72° Fahrenheit (22° degrees Celsius) will help.
Consider that is higher than what adult axolotls generally like.
Also consider the size of the container you are transferring the eggs to.
Axolotls need a lot of space, so it should be of sufficient size to accommodate their needs.
As many as 200 axolotl hatchling can be kept in a 20 galloon tank, but this is not preferable nor advised.
Instead, 100 axolotl hatchlings would do best in an aquarium of this size.
The average axolotl egg is very small and dark brown in color. Although, if an albino axoltol were to lay eggs, hers will be white and without any pigmentation.
Fertilized eggs will develop and progress into embryos in as little as 12 hours, and they will start to display some shaping. Air bubbles are often seen next to the eggs as they develop.
Breeding axolotls is not for everyone, even if it is a relatively simple process to get a male and a female to procreate.
For some owners, it may have never been considered. Or not something they ever want to entertain.
Nevertheless, for others, it can be successfully accomplished by pairing a male and a female, and ensuring the conditions (water temperature and lighting) are optimal.
From there, you should get eggs.
And plenty of them!