The axolotl is a unique type of salamanders known by different names such as Mexican walking fish or water dragon. The term axolotl translates to a water dog and is a name given to the seemingly innocent puppy dog smile that is permanently present in their face.
This type of salamanders is neotenic which means that they retain their juvenile characteristics even at adulthood.
Other amphibians metamorphosize during adulthood and move from water to land.
Axolotl lives in water for the rest of their life taking advantage of the external gills and breathe underwater.
They are very fascinating and fortunately, they make a perfect pet.
Whenever you have made up your mind about keeping axolotl as pets, below are a few guidelines that you need to consider.
One thing you need to understand is the fact that axolotl prefers to live in water for the rest of their life. This means that you will need to provide an aquarium for them.
Most salamanders grow to a very large length hence about 10gallons of water per salamander will be enough.
Most of the homeowners prefer a bare bottom setup for their axolotl however, gravel and fine sand can work pretty well.
Whichever way you choose, make sure that it is fine enough so as it cannot be mistaken for food.
Axolotls are solitary animals and can be kept a lot without the need of a companion. Adult axolotl can be kept in the same aquarium together with another axolotl of the same size.
However, make sure that you provide enough space. Young axolotls cannot be kept together as they will attempt to eat each other.
They will attempt to eat the limbs and grills of another axolotl.
They should also not be kept in the same aquarium with fish since the fish will attempt to eat the grills and limbs of the axolotl.
Nonetheless, their body can regenerate very quickly in case such a thing happens.
Providing substrate for your axolotl aquarium makes it appear more natural and appealing, however, it makes it difficult to clean.
Rocks and wood are the most acceptable décor for axolotl since they cannot be consumed easily, just make sure that they do not have sharp edges. PVC pipes or and aquarium ornaments make a great basic hide for the spartan environment.
The axolotl will be very comfortable if they can have hiding places where they can disappear.
Filtration is never necessary for an axolotl aquarium however it will help to keep the water in the tank clean and reduce the tendency of changing water frequently.
Sponge filters work pretty well as long as there is the presence of internal power filters or filters that hang on the tank.
The kind of filters that hang on the back are the most effective and easiest to maintain. They also help to increase the oxygen levels in the water making the environment even comfier.
Unlike other types of aquarium, you don’t need a heater when it comes to axolotl.
What you need is a chiller to make the environment chilly. Axolotls tend to prefer environments that are cold with temperatures ranging between -55F to 65F.
Try to keep the temperatures between this range as higher temperatures will be lethal for the survival of the axolotl.
Basements are often cooler hence the most recommended place to keep an axolotl.
It is very easy to breed axolotls when they are mature. Distinguishing the sexes can be very difficult especially if you are new to axolotl.
Males tend to have a slender body that is streamlined with a swollen cloaca while females tend to have a large body that is rounded.
They reach maturity somewhere between 5 months and a few years depending on the frequency, temperature conditions and the quality of food. In most cases, when the axolotl has reached over a year then that’s the best time to judge their sexuality.
The coloration of the fingertips is the first sign of maturity.
Axolotls that are dark-colored will develop a light coloration on their fingertips while light-colored axolotls will develop a dark coloration on their fingertips.
Females that have reached full maturity tend to become larger than the males.
This is due to the fact that they are being graved and their cloaca will stay relatively small. Male axolotls tend to be smaller in size and but have a larger cloaca than the females.
Axolotls breed during any season but they mostly breed during the early spring.
A fully-grown female can lay up to 1000 eggs. Whenever you want to them to breed provide a hiding place.
You can place a soft big rock along with some plants and try to keep the place dark.
The smooth rock will provide a place where the male will lay its packets of sperms while the plants will provide a place where the female will lay its eggs. The eggs will hatch after about two to three weeks and they will start to feed on small micro worms.
They rarely eat pellets or dead food not until their back legs develop or they are big enough to eat them.
Baby axolotls should never be cramped in one small container or tank. Make sure that you put them in a tank that has enough space otherwise they will bite one another.
Incase an axolotl dies then make sure that you remove it immediately and clean the environment so that the disease does not spread.
It is always recommended to keep axolotls away from each other so that they do not breed early.
Incase they breed early they will have a shorter lifespan. And in addition, it will be stressful for them.
You should wait until the axolotl is about 7 inches or when their toes are dark. Separate the female from the male once the female has laid eggs for a couple of months.
Axolotls do not breed when you want them to but they will breed when they are ready.
It all depends on the temperature conditions and the quality of food that you provide them.
Just keep it in mind that the best way to know when they have reached maturity is when they change the color of their toes.
The best technique for mating is to keep the males and the females in separate tanks until they are ready to breed. Once you bring them together their first contact would influence mating.
Their mating ritual is very interesting it entails the male laying small conical packets of sperms and then performing a seductive dance with all sorts of movements with its rigid pink tail bumping the cloaca of the female trying to guide it to its sperm packet.
It is a very spectacular scene since axolotls are usually dormant where they spend most of their time sitting around and move only to smaller distances.
When the make succeeds in its seductions then the female can lay eggs within a few hours or days.
The best indication of a pregnant axolotl is when a normal docile axolotl swims around the tank from side to side and going up to things like it is looking for somewhere to lay eggs.
When the female is ready to lay eggs then it will become buoyant and move around the tank fixing eggs on anything that seems stable enough.
It can take several days for the female to complete laying her eggs. It is recommended to remove the eggs from the main tank and ensure that you keep them attached to the plants or the rocks.
Appearance and lifespan
From there they grow very quickly and can reach lengths of up to 14”. The cooler they are kept the slower they will grow.
The salamanders prefer very cold environments, the cooler it is the slower they will grow.
The wild type salamanders are mottled dark green or brown in color which is very perfect for blending in aquatic vegetation.
Axolotls of albino type appear pink in color with eyes that are red and bright red gills. Occasionally, you will find some that are whitish in color.
Axolotls that are bred tend to thaw blood warms, small axolotl pellets and nightcrawler that are about ¼” to ½” pieces.
Once they age, they can handle foods that are of large sizes including full-size nightcrawlers, axolotl pellets and occasionally feeder insects.
Axolotls are a critically endangered species in the wild probably due to the large and invasive species as well as pollution.
Their native range is Mexico. They are very useful in research laboratories due to the regenerative power of their limbs. For this reason, a wide range of morphs and color forms is readily available.
Axolotls are an excellent choice to keep for any pets. Make sure that you do your research well and that you provide the recommended environment for the axolotl to breed.
Before deciding to buy Axolotl, make sure to read this.