Last month, we covered a few of the more unusual pets that people are deciding to keep in the UK. One that is growing in popularity but that didn’t make our list is the axolotl.
This aquatic character may have a slightly strange appearance and a curious smile, but its personality and engagement with owners makes it rather lovable.
Easy to care for, simple to feed, entertaining to watch and boasting a considerable life span, axolotls can provide you with reams of pet fun.
Read on to discover more about them and how they can make great pets for you and your family.
What is an axolotl?
The axolotl is a species of salamander that suffers from a rare condition. This condition means it retains most of the features it should only have at the larval stage. Even in adulthood, they exhibit a tadpole-like appearance, with feathery gills and a long dorsal fin. They are often thought of as fish, but are in fact uniquely amphibian. They spend their entire life in water and never venture on to dry land. This has led to such confusion that observers once took to calling it the Mexican walking fish.
What do axolotls eat?
Despite the timid face and contented smile, axolotls are in fact carnivores. They love to feast on worms, insects, crustaceans and some small types of fish. To be safe, any foods of this type should be bought from a suitable pet store and not found in your garden or a lake. They amount they eat will depend on size and age, but over time you can judge how much your axolotl requires. If you put food into the tank and it remains untouched, they aren’t hungry! You can always remove uneaten food, too, so that the water stays clean for longer.
How long do axolotls live?
Axolotls can give you years of enjoyment. In many cases, they can live for more than 10 years, in which time they can grow to over a foot long!
What tank do I need for an axolotl?
Axolotls like to live alone, but they need ample space to hide, explore and rest. It is suggested that a tank of around 15-20 gallons will be large enough for an axolotl’s lifetime. A secure lid is also a must as these creatures can be crafty.
The tank’s depth should be slightly longer than the full length of your axolotl, but can be deeper if you wish.
You can line the tank with gravel, as you would in any fish tank, although the pieces should be coarse and larger than the axolotl’s head. Smaller pieces may be ingested and end up causing serious injury.
Maintain the water temperature to around 14-20°C, monitoring it to ensure it doesn’t exceed 24°C. As well as gravel, line the bottom of the tank with one or two hiding spots, again similar to a fish tank. Castles, skulls, boats all make great hiding places for your axolotl.
Unlike other water-based pets, you do not need to worry about lighting or timers, so once you are set up and your axolotl is in, you are good to go. Just ensure that the room isn’t too brightly lit, as your axolotl may spend a considerable time hiding from the excessive light.
You will need to regularly change the water, though, and invest in a decent filter. Axolotls deposit a lot of waste, so it is key to keep their water clean.
Can my axolotl get ill?
Axolotls are slightly magical creatures, thanks to their ability to regenerate body parts. Should an accident occur where a limb, tail or even their heart is damaged, an axolotl can simply regrow them!
Despite this relative superpower, other conditions can be significantly damaging. If the water isn’t cleaned enough, bacterial infections can take a hold and make your axolotl sluggish and refuse to eat. The build-up of ammonia within the tank will then lead to gill damage, resulting in breathing problems and even brain damage.
In addition, the materials layering your tank could determine whether your axolotl stays healthy. As mentioned above, gravel that is too small could be eaten, leading to internal obstructions and possibly a sudden death. In fact, some experts advise steering clear of gravel altogether and opting for sand instead.
Very rarely, axolotls can metamorphosise into a terrestrial creature. This can be a very tricky time to look after your pet. It may grow significantly larger and change its personality. If this does start to happen, you should consult a vet experienced in dealing with exotic pets.
Can I handle an axolotl?
It is recommended that you do not handle an axolotl. It can be damaging to their body and removes them from their natural habitat. If you need to rehouse them or perform some tank maintenance, a delicate net should be used to safely move them. Just ensure the net’s holes are fine enough not to allow a leg or a tail to slip through.
So, now that you’re equipped with sufficient axolotl knowledge, will you be choosing one as your next pet?
If you already own an axolotl and are looking to transport it safely to a new home abroad, speak to us at PBS. We are specialists in global pet travel and can help facilitate a move to any destination. Whether you are bringing a pet to the UK or looking for pet travel to Europe or any other place in the world, contact us today for more information and a free quote.