The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium has successfully bred its Laos Warty Newts (Paramesotriton laoensis) for a third time in the institution’s history. This brightly colored amphibian became an almost instant target for collection by commercial traders for the pet trade after initially being described in a 2002 scientific journal. Illegal harvesting and habitat modifications have led the species to experience at least a 50% decline in population numbers over the last ten years, as well as an endangered species classification.
In late 2011 and throughout 2012, the Museum & Aquarium became the first public zoo or aquarium to breed the species in captivity. Since then, the Museum & Aquarium’s population has grown to ten adults.
Several clutches, containing over 100 eggs in total, have been laid since January 2018. Amphibians often lay large clutches of eggs as survival rates account for a very small percent of the total clutch.
To date, close to a dozen eggs have hatched, with additional hatches expected daily. Newts that survive to adulthood from this clutch will likely be offered to other AZA-accredited facilities that are working with endangered amphibians.