Acquired: Pet store
Posted Jan 28, 2015
First off, Rest in Peace Poncho, my tiny little friend. Thanks for teaching me that you don't have to be warm and furry to be cute!
It probably goes without saying, but axolotls are a bit of an odd animal. They're exceptionally strange looking, and seem to be met with a mixture of horrified, confused, and fascinated responses from people. So if you're looking for a pet that will get a guaranteed reaction from people, an axolotl might be a great fit for you.
I absolutely loved owning my axolotl / Mexican walking fish, but it wasn't all smooth sailing! Poncho spent a lot of time out of the fake cave in his tank, and was a super keen eater and midnight swimmer/splasher, but he did have some pretty particular living conditions.
Here are my top tips if you're thinking of adding an axolotl to your family:
- Choose a larger tank than you think you'd need. These guys grow surprisingly long over time, and you want to give them room to swim around and explore different/darker parts of their environment. At his longest Poncho was a about 7 inches from head to tail.
- Always keep their water warm (around 64 F seemed to suit Poncho, but he was OK with it a little cooler in summer). Not only does it distress the axolotl to be too cold, they'll enter into a phase of dormancy and won't move around at all, which isn't much fun. Bear this in mind if you live in a colder environment, as Poncho actually passed away because his water heater broke in the middle of winter (still chokes me up).
- If you want to keep the tank as clean as possible, you'll need a filter. To help it do it's job though, you'll want to minimise the amount you feed your axolotl raw meat. I found these awesome dried meat tablets at my pet store and they lasted an age! He would also get meal worms a couple of times a week, and I'd catch flies as a special treat, but that's not necessarily for the squeamish!
- Most importantly, treat an axolotl as a 'forever pet', because they'll be around for quite a long time if they're treated well. Think carefully about having your axolotl around for 15-16 years. If you plan on travelling a lot, or even leaving the country to live abroad, an axolotl probably isn't for you.
Axolotls are also surprisingly affectionate creatures. Poncho would move around his tank to follow me in my room, and would come to the surface (even when it wasn't feeding time!) to have a look at me. I would strongly recommend owning one, as long as you're able to consider the tips that I've listed above really carefully :)