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12 of the Fastest Reproducing Animals

The world is full of different animals. Many species of animals are able to reproduce themselves at an astonishing rate. Some have large litters at one time, while others have a massive amount of offspring over the course of their lives because they are able to reproduce so many times. This article takes a close look at which are the fastest reproducing animals of all. These are the species that are prolific in one or both of these categories.

Fastest reproducing animals

1. Domestic cats

litter of kittens
Image by Gianfranco58 from Pixabay

A female domestic cat can become pregnant as early as five months of age. One female alone can produce upwards 100 offspring in her life, which can lead to her being directly responsible for as many as 400,000 kittens.

The kittens from one litter can each have a different sire. This is true of pet cats as well as feral ones.

2. Domestic dogs

puppies
Image by gilbertobal from Pixabay

With domestic dogs, a litter of puppies can vary in size. However, it is not unusual for one female dog to have ten or twelve puppies at one time. The heat cycle of a female dog can occur every twelve to eighteen months.

There are some dog breeds where the heat cycle is different, and the litter size is roughly five puppies. If you do the math, it’s not uncommon for a single female to have 100 puppies in her lifetime much like a cat.

3. Canada geese

geese
Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Most people are familiar with Canada geese. They are the brownish/grayish colored geese that can be seen virtually everywhere in North America. It is not an exaggeration to put them on this list.

Those people who have seen Canada geese can attest to their vast numbers. One clutch of eggs can yield numerous goslings at a time. The goslings also mature fairly quickly. It soon becomes difficult to tell the babies from their parents.

4. Sea turtles

image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region | Flickr | CC 2.0

The number of eggs a sea turtle may lay will vary from species to species. The leatherback sea turtle for instance, the largest of all sea turtles, will lay over 100 eggs per clutch. A female sea turtle may have 2-8 clutches per season. Unfortunately only about 1 in 1,000 sea turtles will survive to adulthood due to predators.

These females cover their nests with sand and return to sea. Once the eggs hatch, baby turtles can be seen everywhere on the beach. The ones that survive to adulthood will one day return to the beach to lay eggs of their own.

5. Arctic foxes

Arctic fox

The Arctic fox has been on record as producing the largest litters in the wild animal kingdom. According to Alaska Fish and Game, the Arctic fox has been known to have as many as 15 pups at a time. The average for this animal however is closer to 7 or 8 pups.

6. Domestic hamsters

hamsters
Image by SanneKTM from Pixabay

As far as animals with the quickest gestation periods, the honor is given to the domestic hamster. It is not uncommon for hamster offspring to be born within sixteen days from conception. In addition, a young hamster is capable of reproducing on its own after just 3-4 weeks.

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So while hamsters have short lifespans, they are able to reproduce many, many times and the number of offspring they are responsible for is exponential. Other rodent type animals like the rat can also have their babies within twenty-three days from conception.

7. Rabbits

It should come as no surprise that rabbits have an extremely high reproductive rate. Rabbits are known for a breeding season of up to nine months. A typical gestation period for them is roughly thirty days.

A rabbit can routinely produce a litter of between four and twelve bunnies. Rabbits can become pregnant within just a few days of giving birth. There are larger-sized breeds of wild rabbits that have larger litters than their pet cousins.

8. Guppies

guppy

Guppies, a species of fish, are some of the fastest reproducing animals. They are ready for breeding within three to four months and stay ready for their short lifespan of two to three years.

They normally drop anywhere from seven to twenty eggs at a time. Baby guppies are born completely formed and able to take care of themselves. That said, they reach adulthood at approximately six months old. Guppies are a popular fish in household aquariums because they are fun to watch.

9. Seahorses

Seahorses are also amongst the fastest reproducing animals.  With seahorses, it is the male who carries the eggs after the female inserts them into the male’s pouch.  The clutch of eggs can be as few as one-hundred-fifty or a much larger number that can reach two thousand.  This is at one time.

When a brood of seahorse babies is being born, it can look like confetti shooting out of a cannon.  Over the lifespan of the seahorse, they can be expected to bear into the tens of thousands of offspring.

10. Nine-banded armadillos

This is over the course of its life, in comparison with the numbers of offspring for other animals during their lifespan. A female will usually give birth to four babies at a time that are identical to each other in appearance.

This occurs every year of the reproductive life of the armadillo. In total, approximately 40-50 baby armadillos are born from one female in her lifetime.

11. Virginia opossums

Virginia opossums, the only marsupials in North America, generate a considerable number of offspring during their lifetime. These animals generate up to one-hundred-eight babies over the course of its life.

Born at about the size of an adult bee, there can be up to thirteen born to one female at the same time. The mother is fully capable of suckling all thirteen at once.

12. Norway lemmings

Norway lemming | image by David Mintz
via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0

A female Norway lemming is fully ready to get pregnant at only two weeks old. Over the lifetime of this furry little lady, she can bear over one-hundred-ninety babies.  One might think this is unhealthy for her, but it is not.

This is routine for the lemming female, and she does not suffer any ill effects. It is no wonder that Norway lemmings are at the top of the list when it comes to the fastest reproducing animals.

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