And Your Other Axolotl Questions Answered

Axolotls are all the rage and popular pets. Kids see them, and now they want pet axolotls, but before you invest money, time, and emotions in buying a unique pet for your children, you want answers to some very important questions such as: Where do you get an Axolotl? How long do axolotls live? What type of axolotl tank do I need – fresh water or salt water? What water temperature do axolotls need? Are axolotls dangerous? Do they make good pets? And so many other questions.

If you are like most parents, before going to pet stores, you want to learn more about the new potential family member. Over the years, I have researched cockatiels, dogs, cats, miniature pigs, pygmy goats, dairy goats, market pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, small fish, prairie dogs, flying fox, water frogs, land frogs, hamsters, gerbils, turkeys, chickens, ducks, and horses all for my children. I did draw the line at snakes, ferrets, and tarantulas.

Finally, we will attempt to answer the question: should you get an axolotl for your child with special needs? 

Where to buy a pet axolotl

Where can you buy an Axolotl?

Your first two questions are most likely: Where can you purchase an axolotl, and what is an axolotl?

Be aware, unless you live in Mexico City, you will not be able to find wild axolotls. But because they only can be found in one lake, they are on the critically endangered list. But the ones you would buy as pets are available in most states.

Where do Axolotls live naturally?

Axolotls live in freshwater lakes. However, they can only be found in one lake in Mexico. Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City is the home to the only place that you can find axolotls living in nature. It is now part of a biological reserve created to revitalize the ecosystem. 

An adult axolotl on the bottom of a tank with rocks

What is an Axolotl?

Axolotls are an amphibian. Specifically, they are a type of salamander. Specifically, they are a species of mole salamanders. They have lidless eyes that sit on top of a flat head. They also have adorable spiky gills, webbed feet, a dorsal fin, and a tail. Axolotl means Mexican Walking Fish or “water monster.” They used to be found in several lakes in Mexico, but because of pollution and changes in the environment, they can only be found in Lake Axochimilco.

How big do Axolotls grow?

Adult axolotls grow to approximately 12 inches in their natural habitat and weigh 2.11 to 8 ounces.

How Long do Axolotls Live?

Axolotls live 5-6 years in the wild. However, healthy axolotls can live for up to 15 years with proper care in captivity.

What Color are Axolotls?

In the wild, adult axolotls are brownish-gray. However, in captivity, you can find other colors naturally.

Other colors can occur. A melanoid axolotl can be black or very dark brown, and sometimes they can have a grayish-blue appearance. There are also axolotls that look purplish in some light.

Leucophores (reflector cells) are white or semi-transparent. Albino have white or pinkish eyes and leucristic have dark eyes. 

Melanophores are dark gray or black axolotl.

Xanthophores are yellow/gold.

Read more about axolotl colors here!

Adorable axolotl looking at the camera

Do Blue Axolotls Exist?

No, blue axolotls do not exist naturally. If you think you have seen a blue axolotl, either the picture has been edited, or the axolotl has been dyed blue. The same is true with red axolotls. Obviously, you do not want to purchase an axolotl that has been dyed.

Do Axolotls Regrow Limbs?

Unlike other amphibians such as frogs that go through a metamorphosis, axolotls never grow past their larval stage. They can regenerate lost limbs and other body parts such as hearts, spinal cord, and parts of their brain like other salamanders such as the tiger salamander. Additionally, Axolotl never undergo metamorphosis. They stay as juvenile axolotls all their lives. This is called neoteny.

How long does it take to regrow a limb?

A juvenile axolotl can regrow a limb in 40-50 days. As axolotls age, regrowth takes longer. 

How Many Axolotls Should I Have?

I am told that axolotls will overbreed and cause distress and eventually death to your female Axolotl. For this reason, it is best to just get one axolotl, or get two of the same sex. However, if you would like to breed them, you must have multiple tanks. 

Axolotl on the bottom of a tank

When do Axolotls reach breeding age?

Axolotls reach sexual maturity at 1 year of age.

What do Axolotls Eat?

Axolotls are carnivores. In the wild, they eat fish, mollusks, insects, and even worms. However, they are prey to perch, tilapia, and birds.

You can feed your axolotl blood worms, brine shrimp, and special axolotl foods such as salmon pellets. Since the movement of their food encourages axolotls to eat, you may need to dangle live worms or other live food in front of them to get them to eat. However, make sure to remove any uneaten food from the tank to help keep the tank free of disease. 

Are Axolotls Illegal to Own?

The short answer is yes and no. Many states have reputable breeders, and you can buy an axolotl.

However, it can be illegal to own an Axolotl pet in some US states and Canadian provinces. They are illegal in California, Maine, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Furthermore, you must have a permit in New Mexico and Hawaii. Check with your provinces in Canada to find out about pet ownership. 

Keep reading to find reputable breeders where you can buy your pet axolotl.

Why are Axolotls Illegal in Some States?

Because Axolotls have been bred in captivity for over a century, they are much different than their counterparts in the wild. Additionally, the concern is that if axolotls breed with salamanders in the wild, Captive axolotls have been bred with tiger salamanders. These modern species of salamander pose an environmental threat to native species of salamanders if they are released in the wild.

What Size Tank Do You Need for An Axolotl?

For one axolotl, purchase a 20-gallon tank. A 10-gallon aquarium could work for a young axolotl, or if you plan on changing the water often, but before the axolotl reaches adulthood, you should get a bigger tank. For each additional axolotl, you will need another 20 gallons. 

Purchase tanks that have a greater floor surface instead of one that is tall and narrow. Additionally, have a bare bottom of the tank is not adequate for axolotls. Additionally, gravel at the bottom of the tank is also not ideal for these pets. Sand is the best floor covering for a tank. Live plants can be placed in the tank, but be aware that axolotls may eat the plants. A list of plants that are ideal for axolotls can be found here!

Can You Keep Axolotl with Fish in the Same Tank?

Yes, axolotls can live with other fish. An axolotl expert can help you decide what type of fish will make the best tank mates.

What type of Water Do You Need for Their Tank?

Besides water type, there is also water quality to consider when having an axolotl as a pet. They need clean water. And axolotl tanks require regular maintenance, but starting with the proper water will help maintain ideal conditions. 

Do not use distilled water for an axolotl tank. However, chlorine is also dangerous for your pet. Therefore, when filling an axolotl’s tank, you will want to use either tap water that has been treated if you live in an area that adds chlorine to the water. 

Axolotls prefer hard water over softened water. The pH of the water (alkaline or acid) should be in the 6.5 to 8.0 range. If the pH water level is outside of this range, this can lead to ammonia toxicity and kill your axolotl. To ensure stable levels of pH, you will need to test the water on a regular basis. Monitoring water will help you keep your axolotl safe and healthy. 

What is the Ideal Temperature for An Axolotl?

Axolotls need a cool temperatures. Temperatures above or around 75 degrees Fahrenheit can quickly lead to death. Ideal water temperatures are below 70 degrees. Temperatures should be between 59-73 degrees. Be aware that warmer water has less oxygen.

Can you Hold an Axolotl?

While you can hold axolotls outside of water, they can only survive for about an hour out of water. Additionally, they need their habitat to thrive. Therefore, experts recommend not holding them unless necessary. If you need to handle your axolotl, make sure to wash your hands to help spread any bacteria that your skin may harbor. Do not touch their gills and head. 

How Much Does an Axolotl Cost?

While a normal salamander can be purchased for between $25-$50, the more exotic axolotls typically are higher priced. Axolotls costs are higher than regular salamanders going for $80-$250.

Where Do You Buy a Pet Axolotl?

I promised you we would answer where you could buy an axolotl. They can be found at pet stores with an aquarium area, but they can also be purchased through axolotl breeders. To find reputable breeders in the United States, search for ”Axolotls near me.”

There are also axolotl breeders that will ship your axolotl to you, such as Mariah’s Mystical Axolotls or The Mottled Lotl. They also answer all of your axolotl questions.

You Get An Axolotl for a Child with Autism?

Many parents feel so overwhelmed with caring for a child on the autism spectrum that caring for an animal will be overwhelming. However, if your child is showing interest in having a pet, caring for a pet that does not run around the house and chew on things may be a better option for you. Before getting any pet for your autistic child, you should do a lot of research. 

Fun Facts:

Newly hatched baby axolotls will snack on their siblings limbs. They grow back!

A female Axolotl can lay up to 1000 eggs. However, 300 axolotl eggs are average.

Axolotls in the Movies & Media

Axolotls gained in popularity after appearing in the popular video game, Minecraft.

The 2022 French Movie, L’Innocent features an aquarium with axolotls.

Chicuarotes (2019) TV-14: Axolotls are often seen throughout the movie both in a fishbowl and as graffiti.

Life on Earth series with David Attenborough. Episode 7: invasion of the Land is about amphibians

Death of an Axolotl (2018) TV Movie. Movie about a Mexican Walking fish and a 7-year-old boy with Tourette syndrome. (Tragicomedy)

Cosmic Axolotl appears in episodes of the Gravity Falls series.

Deep Look has an episode of Axolotls.

Now that we have answered most of your questions, including where to buy an axolotl, tell us if you will get an axolotl as a pet. Comment below with your answer!

Where do you get an axolotl and other questions answered

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