Axolotls are large, adorable salamanders that are native to Mexico. Though not as common as snakes or large lizards, they have a growing fan base in the exotic pet community. Though they have lungs as well as gills, axolotls spend their entire lives in water which means they need a tank filled with deep water when being kept in captivity. Hardy and easy to care for, axolotls are great pets for people who may not have a lot of experience with exotic animals. However, there are some things to keep in mind when raising your axolotls. This tip sheet will help you decide what to do.
Getting an Axolotl
Axolotls are not commonly found in reptile and pet stores because they require temperature conditions that are somewhat different from what is required by most snakes and lizards. However, axolotls are widely available from private breeders and axolotl enthusiasts. They may also be available at reptile shows and expos. You can order them over the internet or you may be able to get one special ordered from the exotic pet store in your area. If dealing with a private breeder, make sure that he or she is licensed and raises healthy, quality animals.
Caging an Axolotl
A ten-gallon aquarium is large enough for a single axolotl, but since axolotls tend to produce a lot of mess you may want to opt for a twenty-gallon or larger aquarium. The aquarium can remain totally full of fresh water since axolotls do not crawl on land. A mesh filter should be placed over the aquarium and clamped firmly in place to prevent the axolotl from jumping out of the tank. The bottom of the tank can be coated with regular aquarium sand, and the tank should contain natural rocks, plants and plenty of places for the axolotl to hide. Make sure that a clean water filter is in place to keep the axolotl’s water clear. Axolotls produce more waste than fish generally do, so you will need to change the filter frequently.
Lighting and Temperature for an Axolotl
When axolotls are young, they should be kept under relatively dim light since they tend to be shy. Older axolotls can become accustomed to brighter light, but they should still have some natural rocks and dark places to hide in their aquarium. Unlike many fish, axolotls prefer chilly temperatures and in fact cannot thrive at temperatures above the mid-70s Fahrenheit. You may want to consider buying an aquarium cooler to keep your axolotl comfortable year round.
Feeding an Axolotl
Axolotls are carnivores. Though they need to eat meat, you should avoid live feeder fish so they axolotl’s tank doesn’t become contaminated. Their preferred food is baitworms, which can be purchased at fishing supply stores. They can also be fed bloodworm cubes. If you feel like giving your axolotl a treat, try frozen shrimp or a ball of raw hamburger meat.
Your axolotl will be a great companion as long as you keep it comfortable and well-fed by following this guide. This cute critter is a great conversation piece and a pleasure to watch when you’re at home.