Posted Oct 25, 2014
Bridget the axolotl became part of our household when I was about 7 or 8, and lived in a 4 foot tank in the lounge room which was sparsely planted with elodia weed. She was given to us by a family friend, and was the first pet we were allowed to have apart from goldfish.
Bridget must have been pretty low maintenance because I was responsible for her care (along with support from my Dad) and then later moved to my classroom at school. She lived in cold fresh water and seemed happy enough swimming and walking in the 4 foot tank. I wouldn't recommend a tank smaller than one metre for an axolotl.
Her favourite thing in the world was to eat worms, and we had a great time dropping the wriggling worm near her or onto her head, which she would launch at and quickly gobble up. She loved live food, but also pieces of meat. It was always a bit of a shock when Bridget would go from being still to suddenly grabbing the meat. Axolotls are not good company for fish - they will eat them! Bridget loved feeder fish. This kept her active and happy. Make sure your fish are not wild so that they are parasite free.
You could also pick her up. This wasn't exactly fun for Bridget or us (axolotls are slimy!), but it was ok when we had to move her or clean the tank.
Although Bridget always lived alone, I have seen axolotls living with others of the same species with no issues.
As I grew older I came to learn that axolotls are really interesting creatures. In Australia and New Zealand they are called 'Mexican walking fish' although they are not a fish. They are however, native to the lakes of Mexico. I recently learned that they are actually endangered in the wild.
Axolotls are salamanders in their larval stage and can morph into a salamander, although this is rare in captivity. Axolotls can even breed in their larval stage!
They do have basic lungs, but mainly breathe through their gills and a little through their skin.
Another really awesome thing that axolotls can do is re-grow limbs! (don't go testing this out please!)
I have heard that axolotls can get fungal infections, although we never had this problem. I would talk to your local pet shop or aquarium about how to treat fungus for an axolotl, as some medications can be toxic.
Axolotls are a great first pet that I would recommend to families and schools.