The axolotl is definitely not a typical pet, and it is as unique as its name. Axolotl belongs to the salamander family. Still, unlike salamanders, axolotls do not routinely go through a metamorphosis from the larval stage to the adult form. In short, they remain aquatic animals all their life. Axolotls come in different colors such as albino, grey, black, white with black eyes, and golden. They are easy to have as a pet because it’s just like taking care of a fish. However, you need to provide them a suitable tank that always has the right temperature for this animal.
Axolotl’s Behavior and Personality
Axolotls are generally robust animals, and they are tame in nature. They can be thought to be as a display pet because they cannot interact with their owners outside the tank. Axolotls have soft and delicate body along with a permeable skin. Keep in mind that they should not be touched or handled all the time unless absolutely necessary. Axolotls are not friendly animals, and they do not get any benefits from having a companion.
Giving Axolotls a Home
Axolotls can get quite large. That is why you may need at least a 15 to 20-gallon aquarium or fish tank. You don’t have to fill the tank up to the brim, you just need to get the water deeper than the full length of the axolotl. You should place your tank in a cool room that is away from bright sunlight. Keep in mind that you have to keep the water temperature cool, between 57 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t let it get above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t need to have any special lighting for axolotls. In fact, you may need to have a place for your axolotl to get out of the light, such as an aquarium castle or a flower pot laid on its side.
If you want to use gravel on the bottom of the tank, make sure that it is coarse gravel. This is because fine gravel might be ingested by the axolotl when they are eating, and they can be an obstruction. Axolotls might tend to get cannibalistic towards each other. That’s why if you are planning to raise two axolotls at the same time, we suggest that you keep them in separate enclosures. Adult axolotls can be housed together but be mindful of cannibalistic tendencies. If ever a body part of the axolotl gets bitten off by their tank mate, they can regenerate over time. Even if that’s the case, it should never be allowed and encouraged.
Some owners prefer tanks with filters because they are easier to maintain. But if you choose to have a filter on the tank, make sure that you manage to keep the filtration rate on low because powerful filters can make strong currents. Also, do not put the filters in a position that will trap the gills of your axolotl.
You should not use tap water that contains any chlorine or chloramines. You can remove them by using commercially available solutions. Take note that you should not use distilled water and maintain its pH level between 6.5 and 7.5.
Axolotl’s Food and Water
When they are in the wild, axolotl feeds on worms, small fish, snails, crustaceans, and small amphibians. But if you’re going to take care of them, we suggest that you should feed them small strips of liver or beef, brine shrimp, tubifex worms, earthworms, other frozen fish foods, or commercial fish pellets.
You can purchase pellets from the University of Kentucky because they breed and distribute axolotls to classrooms and laboratories.
Common Health Problems of Axolotls
Although it is not commonly seen, axolotls go through metamorphosis into a terrestrial form, and it can be quite stressful for them. The reason why this stage happens is poorly understood. Still, most experts say that the metamorphosis can be induced by supplementing the axolotl with some thyroid proportions or changing their water characteristics. Of course, caring for an axolotl that is on its terrestrial form can have a different set of requirements. Inducing metamorphosis is not recommended by experts because it can cause stress to the axolotl, and it can cause its lifespan to shorten.
Axolotls also tend to eat gravel; that’s why they are prone to foreign body ingestion and gastrointestinal obstruction. In fact, bowel obstructions are one of the common causes of death for axolotls. That’s why you should carefully size gravels and other objects in their tank.
How to Purchase an Axolotl, and Is it Legal to Own?
Before purchasing an axolotl, you should find out first if it’s legal to own one in your state. Most axolotls are legal to own in several states in the U.S except in Maine, Virginia, California, and New Jersey. In New Mexico, it is legal to own an axolotl, but it is illegal to import it from other states.
You can purchase an axolotl from an exotic pet dealer or a breeder. But keep in mind that you should not buy these animals through the internet or in the black market.