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Other common names: Mexican Walking Fish; Mexican Salamander

Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum

The Basics:
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

Axolotl Health Tip


From Melanoidsoldier Oct 13 2015 7:19PM


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