Axolotls are one of the rarest animals in the world. In fact, scientists estimate that there are only between 700 and 1200 left in the wild today.
But, what exactly is an axolotl? What makes them unique? And do they make good pets?
Read on to learn what an axolotl is and whether you should bring one home.
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What Is an Axolotl?
Axolotls are amphibians that are related to tiger salamanders. Axolotls are different than the average amphibian since most amphibians eventually evolve and begin living on land.
That’s not true of axolotls. Axolotls live in water throughout their lives and use gills to breathe.
Axolotls are notable for their ability to regenerate large portions of their body. While lots of animals can regenerate their limbs, axolotls can generate more vital parts of their body, like parts of their brains. That makes them very important for scientific research.
Axolotls range in size from around six inches to around eighteen inches. This makes them bigger than most other species of salamander. Like most salamanders, they have a long tail.
The average axolotl is a brown color, but in captivity breeders often cross-breed axolotls to increase the likelihood of variant colors. Pale pink or albino axolotls are two common examples. Axolotls can also shift their coloring slightly, as a form of camouflage to help them hide from potential predators.
Axolotls live for approximately ten to fifteen years. They have fixed eyelids, so they appear to not blink. They are nocturnal and tend to hide themselves away during the daytime to avoid predators.
These animals breed between March and May. Their eggs take approximately two weeks to hatch.
Why Are Axolotls Endangered?
Axolotls originate from a lake near Mexico City, so pollution in the area has been a major contributor to their low numbers. But, that’s not the only reason axolotls have become critically endangered. As Mexico City has grown, more and more damage has been inflicted on the axolotl’s habitat.
Axolotls are commonly eaten in some cultures. Since fishing rates haven’t reduced with the diminishing axolotl population, overfishing has become a major issue for axolotls.
Invasive species are also a major problem for the axolotl population. Non-native species like tilapia have been introduced to the axolotl’s habitat. These species eat the axolotl’s food sources, leaving them unable to survive.
Do Axolotls Make Good Pets?
With careful planning, an axolotl can really thrive as a pet. They’re actually one of the most popular exotic pets on the market today.
Axolotls shouldn’t be touched unless absolutely necessary, so if you’re looking for a cuddly pet they’re probably not the right choice for you. But, if you want a pet you can watch in its tank, axolotls are not terribly difficult to care for and live for a lot longer than many other options. Axolotls require less regular water changes than other fish and don’t need to have their tank cleaned as often.
However, you need to have the right materials on hand to keep your axolotl happy and healthy. To have one axolotl, you’ll need at least a tank that holds at least twenty gallons. If you plan to get multiple, size up ten gallons per axolotl.
You’ll also need a low-flow filter and a way to regulate the temperature of the tank so it’s cold enough. You should never put gravel in an axolotl’s aquarium.
Warm temperatures are very dangerous for axolotls and can quickly lead to death, so you need to monitor your new pet’s tank very carefully to make sure it’s at the right temperature at all times.
You should also consider lighting. When axolotls are young, they need to be in a dimly-lit environment. But, once they’re mature, axolotls do well with bright light as long as they still have places to hide.
Axolotls also need a specific diet, one that’s high in protein. Learn more about what axolotls eat today. Basically, axolotls tend to eat a highly carnivorous diet.
Do Axolotls Bite?
You might also be wondering do axolotls bite? The answer is yes, but it’s not as concerning as you think.
Axolotls aren’t aggressive, they simply bite when they’re trying to feed themselves. Your hand may get caught in the crossfire, but luckily their teeth are too small and weak to cause any real harm.
But, before you purchase an axolotl, check out the laws in your area. Some states have banned ownership of axolotls entirely, like New Jersey. Other states require a permit to own axolotls. Others also ban axolotls from being imported across state lines.
You’ll also need to look into your options for pet care should something go wrong. Finding a veterinarian that has experience with axolotls can be incredibly difficult, due to the animal’s rarity.
You should think about the costs, too. While axolotls themselves aren’t very expensive (usually going for less than $100), the costs of food and equipment can really add up. Before you purchase an axolotl, ensure that you’ll be able to keep your new pet happy and healthy for the months and years to come.
Is an Axolotl Right for You?
Clearly, axolotls are fascinating creatures. And, they can make good pets in certain scenarios. So, if you think they might be a good choice for you, start gathering up the materials you need and jump in the deep end.
Are you searching for more information about animals and more? Take a look at a selection of our other helpful posts.
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