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Ambystoma mexicanum

Axolotls are large aquatic salamanders only found in parts of Mexico. They are easy to keep and grow to an impressive 30cm, making the Axolotl a popular exotic pet.

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What does an Axolotl look like?

Axolotls may look like a real life cartoon character, but they are actually closely related to the Tiger Salamander! They are long and slender, with soft slimy skin, but unlike their salamander relatives, they have large feathery gills and paddle-like tails as they are fully aquatic. They have small, lidless eyes and wide ‘smiley’ mouths, and though their vision is weak, they are excellent predators with a voracious appetite! They are able to detect movement in the water using sensory organs known as lateral line organs, which are positioned along the sides of their head and body. Axolotls are available in over 15 colour variations; the most common including black, white, wild type, albino and a golden colour. They grow to approximately 30cm (12in) and will live for approx 12 years in captivity. They are known as being paedomorphic, meaning they do not undergo metamorphosis and are neotenic, meaning they are capable of breeding in their larval form. They can, in rare circumstances undergo metamorphosis and become a salamander; though this can be due to poor water quality and genetic traits. 

Axolotls are studied around the world, due to their ability to regenerate a new fully functional limb within two months of losing it; they can also regenerate their eyes, tails, spinal cord, organs and even their heart and brain tissue!

Where do Axolotls come from?

Axolotls are only found in limited areas of Mexico. The canal systems of the remnants of Lake Xochimilcho, and former Lake Chalco which was drained as part of a flood control measure. In the wild they are officially on the Red List of endangered species, as invasive fish species predate on their young, and the already limited habitats are put under further pressure from the ever growing Mexico City. Thankfully they thrive in captivity; they have been bred and kept as pets since the 1800s meaning this species is unlikely to become extinct.

How do you keep Axolotls?

A good setup for one juvenile Axolotl would consist of an aquarium of 60 x 38 x 30cm (24 x 15 x 12in). Upgrading to a minimum of 90 x 45 x45cm (36 x 18 x 18in) as the animal grows. 

The water should be kept cool, around 10-20 C (50-68 F) meaning it is perfectly suited to being kept at an average room temperature without the need for any additional heating. The water can be kept shallow, as deep as the Axolotl is long; though up to twice this depth is suitable. Care must be taken to ensure the Axolotl cannot jump out, or hit the lid of the tank if the water level is too close to the top. As a rule, a larger tank means a greater water volume; meaning it becomes easier to keep the water quality and temperature stable. 

You can use an internal water filter to help keep the water clean, keeping in mind Axolotls like the water relatively still. We recommend cycling the tank for at least one week before introducing your new pet, though longer is better. Cycling is the term given to the biological maturation of the water. Adding in a biological additive to the water will both neutralise the chemicals added to tap water (to make it safe for us to drink) and seed the tank with the beneficial bacteria needed to help reduce ammonia and nitrites. Aquarium test kits are available to check the water is within healthy parameters for your axolotl.

It is recommended to remove 25% of the water volume on a weekly basis, using a syphon to vacuum the bottom of the tank where waste tends to build up. When cleaning the filter sponges, rinse them in the water you have removed from the tank - if rinsed under a tap, you will wash away the beneficial bacteria you have been working to encourage. Remember, do not use water straight from the tap, let it stand for 48hrs or treat it before introducing it to your aquarium.

Decorate the aquarium with a mixture of plastic plants and oxygenating plants. Decorative pebbles can be added, but avoid using gravel. All decor must be larger than the axolotls mouth to avoid accidental ingestion. It is best to not overcrowd your setup - make sure your Axolotl has plenty of space to swim around and move freely. Keep the tank out of direct light as Axolotls don't have eyelids and can be sensitive to bright light, it also encourages algae to bloom and can upset the balance of your tank.

Although best kept alone, a few Axolotls of a similar size can be kept together if the tank is large enough. If not fed regularly or if they don't have enough room, Axolotls have been known to bite off each other's limbs. They feed on a varied diet from Bloodworms, Earthworms, Freshwater Shrimps, Pellets to crickets and other suitable sized livefoods, eating nearly anything that will fit in their mouth.

Imperfect Axolotls

From time-to-time we sell imperfect Axolotls at a reduced price, this usually means one or more limbs are missing/damaged. A missing limb should grow back within a couple of months.

Imperfect Axolotls are healthy, and only sold when we are happy that any missing limbs are healing well.

Axolotl Pellets

We are regularly asked for pellets for Axolotls, so we are now offering the sinking pellets we feed our Axolotls. Buy Axolotl Pellets.

Axolotl Spawn

We do sell Axolotl Spawn; it is only on site for a limited period and sells fast. If you're interested in some Axolotl eggs, please request an email update via the Email Notifications link below. For some helpful tips, read this article on rearing Axolotl Spawn.

Caution: Please Note! When providing water for your amphibians, this MUST be treated with an Aquarium de-chlorinated solution. The Chlorine will harm and possible kill your amphibians after a period of time. Alternatively, you can use fresh, clean rainwater!

Do your research
Before you commit to buying any pet, please do your own independent research.