Axolotl As Pets: Can You Keep Them As Companions Or Are They Illegal?

Christian Mba
Oct 25, 2023 By Christian Mba
Originally Published on Nov 15, 2021
Speckled Leucistic Axolotl facing towards camera.

Axolotl has become a popular pet fish species for aquarium owners across the world.

The scientific name of the axolotl is ‘Ambystoma Mexicanum.’ Axolotls belong to the family of salamanders.

They are endangered species. Therefore owning axolotl is illegal in certain countries. They have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.

If we provide the right axolotl tank with proper water and temperature conditions, they will remain happy for a long time. Diet is also a necessary factor to keep them healthy. Axolotls are nocturnal animals that stay calm during the daytime and will be active during nighttime.

Their smiling expressions can attract human beings. They may sometimes show cannibalistic nature. Therefore keeping them alone is better. Axolotls can act as good companions to us.

They are easy to take care of and are affordable. After you have read about the lifestyle and food requirements of this wild fish species in an aquarium, also check out axolotl colors and what do axolotls eat? Here on Kidadl.

Do axolotls make good pets?

Ambystoma mexicanum is the scientific name of axolotls. They are also known as Mexican walking fish. Axolotls are good pets for people who are interested in taking care of exotic animals.

Axolotls are a kind of salamander, and we can find them in various colors like black, grey, gold, and white. It's really entertaining to watch the play of the axolotl. These salamanders are aquatic throughout their life. Axolotls are easy to care for because they are hardy.

For beginner pet owners, they are relatively easy to handle and normally live from 10 to 15 years of age. Axolotls have been good companions for a long time for human beings. Their diet is also affordable.

The axolotls need an aquatic tank that should be kept at the right temperatures for the axolotls to survive. It is important that we spend a little time every week cleaning the aquatic tank.

Axolotls live as fully aquatic animals in their entire lives. We should also spend time feeding an axolotl. Then we can enjoy the axolotl as a very calm companion.

The axolotl appears to be bold, and some may come to the side of their aquatic tank when human beings are watching them. Most of the time, the axolotl wish to stay alone.

It is better that they should not be kept with other species as there is a higher chance that the axolotl can eat other pet fishes. They are content with their own company.

We should also take care of housing them with another axolotl. Some species of axolotls like juvenile axolotl are cannibalistic in nature.

There is a high chance that they will eat one another. So it is better that they should be kept in separate enclosures. Adult axolotl can be kept together, but you have to be careful about their cannibalistic tendencies.

If a body part of an axolotl can be bitten off by another axolotl, the axolotl can regenerate it over time. It is better to avoid this situation completely.

The axolotl can be a good companion to human beings. A minimum of 15 to 20-gallon fish tank is necessary for the axolotls. We only need to spend a little time cleaning the aquatic tank of the axolotl and feeding them.

It's quite entertaining to watch them play and to observe them. It can be a good companion for a long time and very easy to handle, even for beginners.

The axolotl's smiling expressions can attract pet lovers. Though the axolotl exists in a variety of colors, they can be a colorful resident in any aquarium. They need ample space to walk around the aquarium.

We have to take care of the water conditions. Sufficient filtration is a necessary factor, and we have to change water weekly. The pH level of the water, its temperature, and even the hardness of the water can affect the axolotl to a great extent.

The temperatures should be maintained between 60-64 degrees F (15.5-17.7 degrees C) as temperatures above this can cause heat stress in the axolotl. The pH level should be maintained between 6.5 and 7.5. Water hardness should remain between 7 and 8 dKH.

The axolotl can eat snails, insects, fish, and other amphibians. Brine shrimps, earthworms, and blood worms are the best feeders for axolotl.

These are protein-rich foods and easily available. Therefore there is no difficulty in handling axolotls. They can be good pets for human beings.

Is it permitted to have an axolotl as a pet?

Some US states like California, Maine, New Jersey, and Virginia considered it illegal to own an axolotl as a pet. It is legal to own an axolotl in New Mexico but to import them from other states is considered illegal.

Owning an axolotl is legal in Canada, but we need a permit to import and export the axolotl from Canada. We can both import and export an axolotl within Canada.

In the European Union, there are no direct restrictions on owning an axolotl. Shipping from abroad may be illegal in some countries in the European Union. It's better to have an eye on the laws of every country before importing and exporting an axolotl from and to our country.

It is legal to own an axolotl in Australia. But Australian laws prohibit importing and exporting axolotls from state to state. In certain states, you can get a permit to own an axolotl.

You need a CITES license to own exotic animals like an axolotl. It is expensive too.

The axolotl is classed as an endangered species. Owning an axolotl is not illegal in all countries. We have to look at the laws in each and every country before owning an axolotl.

Why is it illegal to own an axolotl?

Axolotls are not really expensive to own as you need to spend around US $20 for a baby axolotl and around US $35 for an adult. Owning axolotls is illegal in certain countries. According to the California law system, axolotls are seen as detrimental animals.

They pose a threat to the life of the animals. They also pose a threat to the agricultural interest of the state and to public safety. They are considered endangered species.

They are considered potentially invasive species, and they can not compete with native amphibians. The axolotl is very weak to compete with native amphibians. They can not survive by fighting with native amphibians.

Mexican walking fish do not have any natural predators. If they enter the local lakes, they may cause danger to plants, fauna, fishes, and amphibians there.

the axolotls like to eat fish and other amphibians. Since they have cannibalistic tendencies, they may even eat their own species. Therefore, owning an axolotl is considered illegal in most countries.

Axolotl Disease And Illness Problems

Most axolotls remains healthy if we provide good veterinary care and proper attention to its housing. Adult axolotls are vulnerable to diseases. One of the major diseases affecting the captive axolotls is bacterial infections.

The main reason for this is poor husbandry and other stresses. Deterioration of the gill is another major problem affected to them.

If we do not give them proper care, this may lead to disease. Symptoms of bacterial infections are reduced appetite, red patches on body fin and tail rot, ulcers, scale shedding, and bleeding in the anal and gill area. This disease can be treated with antibiotics and injections.

They can also be affected by fungal infections. High temperatures of the water with poor conditions are the reasons for fungal infections. The main symptom of fungal infection is white fuzzy patches on the body.

Salt baths are used to treat fungal infections. Saprolegnia is a fungal infection affected by axolotls with a weak immune system. This disease is caused by poor water condition injuries and stress.

The symptoms of a fungal infection include loss of gill stalks, grey, white, tan to brown fuzzy growths on head or gill. We can treat Saprolegnia using potassium permanganate and doing salt baths.

The axolotl can develop tumors. Tumors that involve the pigment cells can cause problems in the life quality of an axolotl. The major symptom of a tumor is unusual growths on the head, gills, and in other parts of the body.

Infections caused by parasites are another major issue. The axolotl gets a parasitic infection from live food.

The major parasites that cause infection are ciliates, Opalina, Hexamita, and protozoa like Costia and Trichodina. The axolotl has a life span of 10 to 15 years, and providing proper care for them can make them stay healthy. The axolotl care is the most important factor that makes them healthy.

Axolotl Behavior And Temperament

Axolotls tend to be active during the nighttime, and they sleep throughout the daytime. The older the axolotl becomes, the less active it will be. Adult axolotls are less active than young axolotls. Most of the time, they hide in their shelter during the daytime.

They are nocturnal beings. The axolotls are normally quiet in nature. Axolotls choose a quiet corner in their tank, and they sleep there most of the time during the day.

They become active at night time. They wish to sleep when the water is calm and does not have eddies.

Axolotls like to walk around the tank, and some of them may come to the side of the tank when human beings watch them. Axolotls may agitate at night time, and that will continue until the daybreak. If there is a rise in the temperature of the water, the axolotls will get a little more agitated than usual.

When the temperature of water rises, the oxygen level in the water will fall, and the axolotl has to swim to the bottom of the tank, and they bring their gills into contact with water as much as possible. When the water becomes too acidic, the axolotl becomes restless.

Acid water can make their skin burn, and they will jump out of the water when the acidity of the water increases. If you add a new member to the axolotl tank, that will also make the axolotl more active.

There are two types of axolotls.

Some of them are extroverts who like to walk around the tank and make friends with other tank mates. They are called Mexican walking fish as they like to walk around the axolotl tank.

Some other axolotls have quieter characters and temperaments. Who usually hide in the shelter during the daytime and wait for the nighttime to go around the tank.

Housing The Axolotl

The habitat of the axolotl is very important. The axolotl usually jumps out of their aquatic tank.

We have to make sure that their aquatic tank has a secure lid. A minimum of 15 to 20-gallon fish tank is needed for an axolotl. The depth of the water should be more than the length of the axolotl.

Increasing the depth of the water will improve the water quality, and it gives the axolotl more space to walk around. If we plant small plants inside their habitat, they will be happier.

We have to provide the right conditions for the axolotl to settle. The water tank should be kept away from bright sunlight and should be maintained in a cool room. We have to search the temperature of the water in the axolotl tank.

We have to keep the water temperature between 57 and 68 degrees F (13-20 C). Never allow the temperature of the water to rise above 75 degrees F (23 C). Search the pH level of water.

Acid water can burn their skin. We have to take proper care of their skin by providing the right pH level of water. No special lighting is needed for the axolotl. Natural lighting is enough for the axolotl.

It is better to leave the bottom of the tank bare. Paving gravel may obstruct the free movement of the axolotl. Distilled water is not good for an axolotl.

The important factor of the axolotls care is water quality. The pH of the water should be between 6.5 and 7.5. Tap water without chlorine and chloramines is good for the axolotl.

A filtered aquarium is better than an unfiltered aquarium. Water changes can affect them badly. We have to clean aquatic tanks regularly.

Similar Species To The Axolotl

The axolotl is related to the tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum). The axolotl usually undergoes breeding with tiger salamanders since they can produce viable offspring together. Their gills are attractive. The Mexican walking fish can be found in lake Xochimilco which is situated near Mexico city. Lake Xochimilco is the favorite place of the axolotl.

There are different types of the axolotl. There are Wildtype axolotl, Chimera axolotl, Copper axolotl, Enigma axolotl, Golden Albino axolotl, Leucistic axolotl, Melanoid axolotl, Mosaic axolotl, and White Albino axolotl.

The wild axolotl is a local axolotl that has dark eyes with a shiny gold ring around the pupil and purple gills. These creatures can exist in various colors like green, brown, and black. Leucistic axolotl exists in white or pink body color with dark navy or black eyes.

They have bright red gills and may develop freckles depending on their genetics and surroundings. The white albino axolotl has a white or pink body with red eyes. They do not have any pigmentation in their body; the white albino exists in two forms: they are white and xanthic.

Golden albino axolotl have a golden yellow body with shiny patches and clear eyes with peachy colored gills. They lack melanophores. Melanoid axolotl are similar to wild tales; they have an increased amount of melanophores.

They lack shiny pigments. Copper axolotls have red-tinted eyes. They lay white eggs.

They do not have any black pigments. Mosaic axolotl cannot be reproduced through breeding, and they develop as a result of an accident that occurs during development. Many mosaics are infertile.

Ethics Of Keeping A Pet Axolotl

The axolotl can be a good pet. It is better that they should never be taken from the wild for the pet trade. They like to live in the wild. If we capture them and decide to make them pets, we should give them proper living conditions with the right temperature.

They are aggressive in nature but can be kept as good pets for someone with less experience with exotic animals. We have to rear them alone. Since they have cannibalistic tendencies, it's better to enclose them alone.

We should spend time cleaning their aquatic tank and feeding them. These creatures will live for a long time only if their diet is healthy. We have to provide protein-rich food like feeder fish, snails, earthworms, blood worms to them.

These food items can make them healthy. We have to regularly visit them to check whether they have any disturbances. We have to keep them safe with proper housing conditions and food.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for axolotl as pets, then why not take a look at bats as pets or axolotl facts.

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Written by Christian Mba

Bachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba picture

Christian MbaBachelor of Science specializing in Computer Science

Christian Mba is an experienced blogger and content writer with over a decade of experience. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Nigeria and has a keen interest in Python programming. Along with his writing and blogging expertise, he is also an SEO specialist with more than six years of experience. Chris, as he is commonly known, has a passion for music and enjoys playing the piano.

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