Is it OK to have an Axolotl as a pet?
Cute and unique pets are always high in demand, and the Axolotl is surely within that category.
Before acquiring an exotic animal such as this, you need to understand whether it’s okay to own one.
Some animals come with biological, ethical, or safety concerns that should be considered prior to picking one for your home.
Before we address these concerns, let’s address these pets and what makes them so unique.
What is an Axolotl?
An axolotl is a rare, aquatic amphibian native exclusively to the Xochimilco lakes in Mexico. It is considered by biologists to be an endangered species, with only a few still living in the wild.
Axolotls have four limbs and a tail that give them a lizard-like appearance. They come in light and dark color patterns.
They’re known for their adorable faces, with their pleasant facial expressions and beautiful “headdress” gills.
Axolotls also have very strict habitat parameters that must be met by their caregivers.
- Aquarium design
- Water temperature
- Frequency of water cycling
- Water quality
Axolotls must be kept in long, wide tanks of at least 29 gallons of water per axolotl at the minimum, but larger tanks are recommended if the owner is able.
Substrate, which is rocks or gravel on the bottom of the tank, is not recommended for young axolotls because of a choking risk.
Once an axolotl surpasses 6 inches in length, you may add fine sand at the bottom no larger than 1mm in diameter.
Axolotls enjoy larger rocks and plants in their habitat to hide in and explore. Anything that produces bubbles is also great enrichment.
Can Axolotls harm you?
While some amphibians are potentially dangerous to humans, carrying natural venoms or toxins, axolotls are not.
The only potential threat is if the animal happens to be carrying a certain disease.
If you have other pets like dogs or cats, you’ll want to keep them separate from an axolotl as they may attempt to catch and eat it, and it could cause them to choke.
How long do Axolotls live?
In the wild, axolotls live between 5 and 10 years. In captivity, they usually live even longer.
(Up to about 15 years).
If you’re considering an axolotl for a pet, you should be aware of its lifespan so that you can commit to caring for the animal for the remainder of its lifetime.
It is not best to get an animal as a pet if you cannot make this commitment, especially with non-traditional pet types.
It is already difficult to rehome a cat or dog if a pet owner can no longer care for it. For animals like Axolotls, it is even more difficult to find a new home for them.
Axolotls’ specific living conditions must be recreated in their habitats for their health and safety. These parameters are not optional for Axolotl pet owners.
How long can you hold an Axolotl out of water?
You should not hold an axolotl out of the water any longer than necessary, only a few minutes at most to avoid stress on the animal.
While they can extract oxygen from the air and breathe outside of water, they are highly sensitive to changes in temperature.
Fluctuations in body temperature can cause serious health problems for axolotls, even death. Because of this, they should stay in water at the correct temperature range the vast majority of the time.
This is also why it is extremely important for the water in their tank to be at the correct temperature.
How big can Axolotls get?
Adult axolotls grow to be about 9 to 12 inches in length. Some Axolotls have a dwarfism gene, which breeders sometimes bring out purposefully.
Dwarf axolotls only reach about 6 inches in length. Successfully bred dwarf axolotls retain correct body proportions and are known as “minis,” but some dwarfs are disproportional.
Interesting facts about Axolotls
Axolotls are scientifically interesting because of their adaptability and unique qualities, such as the following:
- They possess regenerative capabilities unseen in other species. They can regrow any limb or other body part if they lose it – including crucial organs, like their brain.
- While other amphibians can regenerate tissue, no other animal can do it on the same level as the axolotl.
- This ability, contained in axolotl DNA, is the subject of scientific research for medical uses in humans.
- The word “axolotl” is from a native Mexican language known as Nahuatl that stems from Aztec heritage.
- While English speakers pronounce “axolotl” phonetically using four syllables, the correct Nahuatl pronunciation is only supposed to contain three.