Acquired: Pet store
Posted May 20, 2015
So I first got 2 axolotls as pets around 6 years ago from a local exotic pet shop in my town. I'd been toying with the idea of an exotic pet, like a snake, but I saw the axolotls and fell in love. I got 2, as I didn't want one to get lonely, and housed them in a 30 gallon tank I got second hand. They settled in right away and got on famously - even producing spawn every spring! Unfortunately I never kept any of their young, as they are very hard to raise, I donated them back to the pet shop. Xavier and Magneto have been with me through several house moves and been fine, although when I moved into my current house, Magneto (the female) become very aggressive towards Xavier (the male), and she even bit his leg off, and I guess at it, because I never found it. The impressive thing about axolotls (and why there are so many raised in labs) is that they can regenerate any limb perfectly if it gets cut off - so while it was horrible, it was also interesting to see this process, and sure enough he has grown a new leg back! I had to use a tank divider for a time when he was still healing and they were still fighting a lot, but they get on well again now. I feed them once a day on frozen bloodworm cubes, which are available fairly cheaply from the local pet shop, and I do a partial water change every 7 days or so. I use a small filter (Elite Stingray) in the tank, as the water only half fills it - axolotls do not need more than about 12 inches of water as they tend to walk along the bottom of the tank. I use a water conditioner to dechlorinate the water in the tank - although bear in mind most fish tank products are not suitable for axolotls - consult your local store to get recommendations. They are pretty low maintenance, not much more difficult than taking care of a fish tank. They cannot have tank mates, as they will pretty much eat anything smaller than them, and anything bigger might eat their delicate 'frills', which they breathe through. The tank is accessorized with some very fine substrate (pebbles are not good for them, as they may swallow some and this blocks their digestive system), a little cave for them to hide in, a plant and a few large rocks. I had a problem with the water once, these strange white bugs somehow got in there and quickly populated the tank. On the advice of my friend from the exotic pet shop, I drained the tank completely, got new substrate, and cleaned everything thoroughly. Instead of using products to disinfect the tank, I also poured very hot (not boiling) water in to make sure none of the bugs survived, and have kept a close eye on it since. They like to be cold, so I don't heat the water - on very hot days they become uncomfortable, so I use a frozen bottle of water as a cooler. It is true that axolotls can 'evolve' into amphibious salamanders, but I will never induce this process as this is the last stage of their life, and they usually die soon after. They have lived for at least 6 years, and provided they continue to have good health, they stand to live for up to 15 years.