Axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum

Axolotls are charming with a recent boom thanks to the video game Minecraft

At a glance...
  • Charming and unique exotic pets
  • Easy to take care of
  • Can be kept in pairs or small groups
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Do Axolotls make good pets?

Axolotls are aquatic Salamanders that remain in a juvenile-like state throughout their entire lives, keeping their external feathery gills and underdeveloped limbs despite reaching a sexually mature stage and being able to reproduce. They are extremely popular exotic animals, partly due to their appearance in the video game Minecraft, but mostly due to their unique looks and charm.

Despite their popularity and booming populations in the UK animal and exotic pets trade, Axolotls are considered to be critically endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), primarily due to habitat destruction, water pollution and the introduction of invasive species to their native habitat.

Axolotls can be kept in pairs or small groups when their enclosure is large enough, although pairs tend to be the most popular choice for Axolotl keepers. It is important, however, to keep a close eye on any Axolotls being kept with other Axolotls, to ensure that they are getting along.

At Swell Reptiles, all of our Axolotls have been captive bred in the UK, meaning you can rest assured that they will be in good health, with minimal impact on their dwindling native populations.

What size tank does an Axolotl need?

For Axolotls, the footprint of their enclosure is more important than the total overall water volume, and we recommend a minimum enclosure size of around 90cm (3ft) long for an individual adult Axolotl, or 120cm (4ft) for a pair of fully grown adult Axolotls. Babies and juveniles can be kept in slightly smaller tanks, however.

Once you have your new Axolotl tank filled, it is important to cycle the filter for 6 to 8 weeks, dosing with ammonia and testing the water regularly. Once the tank is fully cycled and no ammonia is present, you are ready to introduce your Axolotl to their new home.

Do Axolotls need a heater?

Axolotls are fully aquatic, so do not need a terrestrial basking spot, just the correct water temperature. The best water temperature for an Axolotl is between 15-18°C (59-64°C), so they do not require an aquarium heater in most instances, although it isn't a bad idea to have one on hand in case of emergency, particularly since most aquarium kits will have a heater included either way.

Do Axolotls need specific lighting?

Axolotls, unlike many terrestrial or semi-aquatic amphibians, do not require any specific lighting, rather a good quality aquarium light will suffice to provide them with a day/night lighting cycle. It is important, however, that the light is not too bright, as extremely bright light can be stressful to an Axolotl.

Can I use substrate for my Axolotl?

The most highly recommended substrates for Axolotls are fine sands, or no substrate at all. This is because Axolotls don't have the best aim, and are likely to ingest substrate during feeding, so the substrate must be fine enough for the Axolotl to easily pass in the event of ingestion.

How do I decorate my Axolotl tank?

Axolotls aren't too fussy when it comes to decorating their forever homes, although providing them with ample cover to help reduce stress is important. Caves and artificial or live plants dotted along the length of the Axolotl tank will help with this.

It is important, however, to ensure the plants, live or artificial, are chosen with broad leaves, as fine, spindly leaves can get stuck in Axolotl's long, external gills.

What do Axolotls eat? (Frozen Bloodworm, Earthworms etc.)

Axolotls are carnivorous, and despite having poor eyesight, have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to locate their prey. They can be fed on live foods, frozen foods, or formulated pellets. Some good examples are frozen or live Bloodworm, live Blackworm and Earthworms. Most Axolotls particularly enjoy eating frozen Bloodworm, even over live foods.

How do I buy an Axolotl?

We regularly have at least one UK captive bred Axolotl for sale at our Swell Superstore, so if you would like to purchase one, please feel free to pop in or contact the store team and have a chat with the team. They will request some pictures of your set-up, which should be complete and ready for your new Axolotls to go into. We reserve the right to refuse the sale of any livestock to anyone we feel is unprepared for the commitment.

While we are unable to sell Axolotls over the internet, we do sell everything you'll need to get ready to give your new Axolotl a home including enclosures, Blood worms and decor. Everything in our range comes with fast shipping. Keep checking back for new products and regular sales.

For more detailed Axolotl husbandry information and care tips, please see our dedicated Axolotl care sheet.

Common names Axolotl, Mexican walking fish, Mexican salamander
Scientific name Ambystoma mexicanum
Country Mexico
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 20-30cm (8-12")
Natural habitat Freshwater lakes
Housing 90cm (3ft) or 90L aquarium
Ideal temperature 15-18°C (59-64°C)
Water pH 6-8
Diet Carnivorous
Average lifespan 10-15 years
Personality Docile
Ease of handling Handling should be avoided
Cohabitable Yes
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