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Male-female recognition

This is a discussion on Male-female recognition within the Tiger Salamander & Axolotl (Ambystoma tigrinum, A. mavortium spp, etc.) forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; I've been playing around with my tiger's and breeding. I'm well aware that it's nearly impossible, and my hopes are ...

Tiger Salamander & Axolotl (Ambystoma tigrinum, A. mavortium spp, etc.) The Tiger Salamanders and the Axolotl are so popular amongst hobbyists that they have been given their own topic. If you're particularly interested in the Axolotl, there is a large section of the forum devoted mainly to beginner Axolotl enthusiasts (not this topic).

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Old 3rd January 2008   #1 (permalink)
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Default Male-female recognition

I've been playing around with my tiger's and breeding. I'm well aware that it's nearly impossible, and my hopes are not high, and I'm really just doing this for fun with a lot of skepticism. However, now my experimentation has led me to a question.

Simply put the set up is such.

1. Terrarium containing

2x male A. mavortium
1x female A. mavortium
1x female A. californiense (Note: since this is always controversial... this salamander was collected ~10 years ago for research purposes, and rescued with 50 other larvae slated for destruction and captive raised since then)

2. Aquarium containing

1x male A. mexicanum

3. A covered bridge allowing for safe access between the two tanks. (My first long shot, but surprisingly they use it frequently.)

After playing with lights and moisture levels, I now have my male tigers spending their days in the Terrarium and nights at the water interface and occasionally swimming in the aquarium (If that means anything...), but so far the females seem to not be interested in the water at all, although the female A. mavortium has become quite plump recently. I've seen no changes in the A. californiense daily routine though.

Ok, so the other evening the female A. californiense happened to wander over to the aquarium, and went for a swim. After about 15-45 minutes, to my surprise the axolotl started courting (bumping) the CA tiger and dropping a bunch of spermatophores (I counted 7 that were easily visable), but in excitedly watching the events I spooked my CA tiger and I don't think anything happened (if anything could even happen). The axolotl then continued dropping spermatophores, even after the CA tiger left and returned to the terrarium.

Ok now for my question. First of all, I had no intent to cross axies and tigers. (Mating tigers is enough of a challenge for me). The axie is in there soley because it was the easiest way for me to present the tigers with a large body of water, and they seem to get along fine and I figured that there was little to no chance of mating between them.

So I was wondering how males recognize females. I for a short period had my female mudpuppy with my male axie and never saw spermatophores. Additionally, for about 2 weeks now my axie has had access to male tigers, and has shown no interest in them. I've never seen spermatophores before in my three years with my axie, so clearly he somehow recognized that there was "mating potential" the other night.

So how did he know this? Is it some phermone, or perhaps her hourglass figure and fancy spot pattern she is sporting? Does anyone know? I'd suspect it has little to do do with looks and more to do with smells.
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Old 3rd January 2008   #2 (permalink)
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lol @ hourglass figure.

I suspect it's probably something with pheramones. But I kept 3 male axolotls together for about 3 years, and I did occasionally see them trying to court each other (prison gay, maybe?). But one would bump the other, and the bump-ee would promptly drop spermatophores. Maybe it was his way of saying he wasn't interested.

I think axolotls will drop spermatophores for just about any reason. So, it could be that your axolotl had not encountered this female before, so she smelled new, and he thought he'd try to mate with her, just in case she was interested. I see this happen at the bar all the time :)
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Old 4th January 2008   #3 (permalink)
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Oh...axolotls are those kind of guys... now it all makes sense. I had a roommate like that once.
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Old 5th January 2008   #4 (permalink)
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In comparing a recent photo (right) of one of my males with one taken a back in the fall of 2007 (left), I noticed his vent is now quite swollen... another good sign, maybe. (Hopefully he's not ill) Now if only the ladies would come over to play.
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Old 5th January 2008   #5 (permalink)
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What my understanding is about breeding these guys is that it's usually getting the females in the mood that's the hard part. The males usually come willingly (just like at the bar...), but the triggers to getting the females to lay eggs are lacking.

Do you have them set up on any specific light/temperature regimes?
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Old 5th January 2008   #6 (permalink)
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So, I don't have any strict regimes set down. This has been more of a play around and see what happens.

Basically, I've been trying too keep things wet in the terrarium (trying to maintain water drops on leaves and walls, but well ventilated, so the tank isn't a mud pile). I find that the increase in humidity keeps them out and burrowing less.

As for light, I've pretty much been adjusting my timers to go with sunrise/sunset every week or so. In general, I regularly do this, but since I started this project (early Dec), I've been more religiously keeping up the the timers. At least my Christmas cactus in their terrarium is blooming with the light cycles..., which historically hasn't happened.

As for temperature. I don't really have a good way to modulate it. I don't have heat in my apartment... sadly, I just have a little electric radiator that works for one room at a time. So taking advantage of my unfortunate situation, what I've done this year, is not use the heater in my bedroom/salamanderroom at all, and keep that room at the outside temperature...windows open and all. Lately, this is about 55 degrees during the day and low 40s at night.

Thusfar the salamander shown above seems to be the most reactive to my attempt. He's got his swollen vent, and religiously spends his nights at water interface of my bridge/aquarium. Early this morning, I caught him head bumping the female, as she entered the water interface. It was neat to see his little "dance", but clearly she was annoyed with his actions and shortly turned around and hightailed it back to the terrarium. Poor guy got turned down. He's eating habits also seem to have changed. He currently isn't gorging food like he used to do, though he is eating regularly. It's almost as if he loses interest after getting a little in his belly.

The other barred male seems to be only half-committed. The barred female, is curiously plumping up and seems to use the bridge several times during the night, but so far really seems to dislike the water. For the CA tiger, I have little hope that she'll do anything. She's a bit of a princess, so I don't ask too much of her.
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Old 20th February 2008   #7 (permalink)
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Just to conclude this thread.

My females did fatten up and eventually spend some nights at the water, but this was about 3 weeks after my males had lost interest. Interestingly, the males spent about 2-3 weeks in the water tank, but the females only a few days. In summary this attempt was a failure of missed connections, but fun to watch the changes in their behavior. Perhaps next winter I'll be luckier, planning to play with temp a little more. So, I just took down my bridge, and cleaned up their tank, so they can enjoy another year to eat, dig and be merry.
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