Other common names: Mexican Walking Fish; Mexican Salamander
Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
The Axolotl has the rare distinction of simultaneously being an endangered species, common pet, and important laboratory animal. This aquatic salamander is also unique in being very hardy and easy to breed…an ideal choice for beginners and advanced hobbyists alike.
Axolotl’s entire range is a mere 6.2 square miles in size, encompassing Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco, in the vicinity of Mexico City. Pollution, collection for food, and introduced fishes now restrict it to a small fragment of that tiny habitat.
Appearance / Health:
This entirely-aquatic salamander is stoutly built and reaches 9-12 inches in length. The head bears large, bushy red gills and the tail is laterally compressed. Wild specimens are dark brown in color, but albino, black, and other strains are common in the pet trade.
Well-cared-for Axolotls may live to 25+ years of age. Pets will swallow rocks and gravel bits, resulting in intestinal blockages. If ammonia levels are not kept low, “Red Leg” and other bacterial/fungal infections will take hold.
Behavior / Temperament:
Axolotls become amazingly bold in captivity, rising to the surface and feeding readily from the hand. They are active both day and night, and are completely at ease in the open, without any shelters.
They should be handled only when necessary, and then by being urged into a water-filled container so that the skin’s protective mucus is not removed.
A 10 gallon aquarium can house a single adult; larger groups will get-along in more spacious quarters. Gravel should be avoided due to the danger of ingestion.
A canister or submersible filter and weekly partial water changes will help ensure low ammonia levels. Strong currents from filter outflows should be avoided. Chlorine and chloramine must be removed from water used in aquariums via liquid preparations available at pet stores.
Axolotls tolerant a variety of conditions, but ideally should be kept in soft water with a pH of 6.9-7.2 and a temperature range of 62-70 F. They do survive warmer temperatures, but are then more susceptible to illness.
Axolotls are pleasantly undemanding. Commercial newt diets and freeze-dried prawn serve well as a mainstay. Live blackworms, earthworms, minnows, and guppies provide excellent supplementary nutrition, or can be used as the main diet as well.
Females are larger and stouter than males, which swell about the cloaca when in breeding condition.
Normal room temperature fluctuations often stimulate reproduction, while a sudden increase of water volume and a drop in water temperature will do so at most any time of year.
Females attach hundreds of eggs to plants or other structures – and may then promptly begin consuming them! The eggs hatch in 2-3 weeks. The larvae can be reared on chopped live blackworms, with frozen bloodworms and newt chow being introduced after the first month.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
Interesting animal, great talking point, fascinating creatures
cannibalistic stage, potential health problems, sand NOT gravel, creepy Axolotl, strange appearance
albino axolotls, ice fed lakes, simple diets, cold water animals, water dragon, Mexican Walking Fish
My canibalistic axolotl
Half a year ago I decided to buy two axolotls at the pet store for in my student housing. Axolotls are a kind of salamander that live underwater their entire life. Although they don't tend to like flowing water, they were doing just fine with a small aquarium filter. This severely reduces the need to clean the entire tank. I usually feed them frozen clamp meat, which is much less 'gross' (as some might call it) than chopped up worms. However, don't put multiple axolotls in a small tank, since they might get snappy. I had found that out the hard way when I came home one day and there was only one of them left in the tank! The one I have left is doing fine and I am very happy with him, since he does not require a lot of care and is nice to look at..
From TheNumb3rMan Jan 10 2017 8:45PM
Life with Axolotls
I've had three axolotls for six months, and overall, I am very pleased with them. Axolotls have permanent smiles that cheer you up with a single look. Each one of my axolotls has a unique personality, so it really feels like they are my children. However, similar to children, axolotls are not exactly a walk in the park. They require moderately cold water, for one, which becomes difficult during warmer months. This would require you to either move the aquarium to your basement/a cooler part of the house (which is messy, dangerous, time-consuming and obnoxious), or buy an aquarium chiller (which can be very expensive). Their general upkeep is rather pricey! You have to buy food monthly. The food itself is not exactly too expensive, but since axolotls don't like repetitive meals you have to buy different varieties and types. The worst thing that happens diet-wise is when your axolotl rejects almost everything you buy. This does not happen very often in axolotl owners, but it happened with me and it sucked! I drove back to the pet store which refused to give me my money back, so then I had a bunch of frozen cubes of gunk that my pet didn't even touch. (I ended up using these for my next two axolotls, but at the time it was really discouraging.) Another con to axolotls is that they produce quite a bit of ammonia. Ammonia, which they are heavily producing through their waste, is lethal. To manage this, you will need a filter. But axolotls don't like flowing water since it stresses them out, so you would have to buy a weak filter (like a sponge filter). Although these are inexpensive, they are relatively hard to find offline. You could keep them without a filter, but this would require a lot of daily hand-cleaning and water changes. This would not allow you to spend the night at a friend's house since you would need to give the tank a good scrub. Although these things can be hard to maintain, they are still amazing pets. Every time someone comes over, they are fascinated by my unique choice of aquatic pet. Axolotls come in a variety of colours. Although these colours are simplistic, they are vibrant and beautiful. These amphibians are unusual looking, and this gives them a certain charm. They are also very funny. I once got a decorative aquarium piece that had large stairs leading up to a large platform. Instead of simply swimming up to the platform, my axolotl actually used the stairs with his legs! I found it hilarious and even posted a video of him doing it up on Instagram. Every time I walk into the room, my axolotls notice and they swim up to the surface to greet me. Their eyes truly make them seem like they understand you and love you. My axolotls are also very playful! After I hand feed them (an optional part of axolotl-keeping that I think is recommended), they want to continue playing with my fingers. I keep my hand in the tank as they merrily swim around it, nibbling and paddling adorably. They even climb into my palms sometimes. Even though you cannot take them out of the water, it doesn't mean that they don't enjoy handling YOU! So far, my experience with axolotls has been amazing and I don't regret purchasing them whatsoever. I would say that these pets are not something you'd buy on impulse or without researching, but if you know the basics, they make great company and lighten up your life for a long time..
From Melanoidsoldier Oct 13 2015 7:19PM
Not really a pet
I had this axolotl a long time ago and for about 2 years, I saw him in the pet shop and he looked funny and adorable so I decided to buy it. I regretted that decision later. By that time of my life I have only had dogs and cats as pets, and I was expecting my relationship with my axolotl to be somehow similar to the relationship I had with the rest of my pets, but I was really wrong. An axolotl is not the kind of creature that would interact with you, he was really hard to feed because I had to feed him with live worms and that wasn't pleasant at all. There was also a lot of maintenance, they need warm and clear water so I had to clean the tank pretty often, and that can take a long time. For the rest, I didn't feel like this creature was bringing any joy to my life, like any regular pet does, and most of all, I felt horrible when I started realizing that I didn't bring any joy to his life. In my home, in his lonely tank, he was not more than an ornamental piece. I had no idea about his natural life, it killed me to think that he was far away from his natural habitat, with no possibility of interacting with others like him and that I was doing nothing more that keeping him captive for no good reason. So, all in all, I do not recommend anyone to get an axolotl as a pet..
From Mahi Jan 11 2017 4:00PM