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Axolotl

Name Ambystoma mexicanum
Type Amphibian, water dweller
Where am I from Mexico
Handel-ability None
Length/size Ave 10-12 inches
Suitable for Beginners, hardy species
Life span Ave 10 years

Housing

Axolotls are a fully aquatic species that appreciate heavily vegetated waters and freshwater lakes at high altitudes. They prefer cool water, as the water from the lake of their origin is glacier fed and cool throughout the year. An Aquarium will be needed to house your Axolotl as they are entirely aquatic. They are quite an active species so the bigger the aquarium you can provide the better. The aquarium should be fitted with a tight fitting lid, as they are prone to try and escape from their enclosures. Axolotls are not adapted to live on land, so will dehydrate and die quickly if they escape and are not placed back in the water in time. The bottom of the tank may be lined with an aquarium gravel substrate, but larger gravel is more appropriate than smaller grains to avoid your Axolotl from accidently ingesting some of the gravel. Sand, pebbles, marbles and large rocks can also be used.

Temperature

The ideal water temperature for your Axolotl is a temperature gradient of 10-20°C (50-68°F). This is generally around room temperature so no additional heating should be required. Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 23°C can cause your Axolotl to suffer from heat stress, so measures need to be taken if you cannot maintain temperatures below this. It's useful to have a small thermometer on either end of the aquarium to check the water temperature.

Lighting

Axolotl should be kept out of direct sunlight as they have sensitive eyes and do not like bright lights. Aquarium lights are also not recommended. Natural sunlight should suffice.

Feeding

Axolotls are carnivorous and should be fed every 3-4 days with a varied diet of appropriately sized prey items, such as bloodworms, earthworms, crickets, blackworms, whiteworms, lean meat, small pieces of shrimp, daphnia, mosquito larvae, very small snails and appropriately sized fish pellets. Feed just as much as they can comfortably eat within 10 minutes.

Breeding

Axolotls are neotenic and spend their entire lives in the larval stage. This means they can breed without changing to a typical adult salamander form through metamorphosis. Despite this, should not be bred until they reach the age of 18 months to ensure they are the appropriate size and maturity. The breeding season in the wild for Axolotls is usually around winter to spring, but it is possible for a female to lay eggs every 4- 6 months. This is not necessarily healthy though, so it is advised to only breed your females once a year. Axolotls can sometimes be encouraged to breed by reducing the daylight hours they are exposed to for a few weeks beforehand.

300-600 eggs can be spawned, and these tend to be deposited on plants. These eggs should be separated from the adults soon after spawning to avoid the possibility that the eggs will be eaten. The eggs need to be kept at 20°C (68°F) in aerated water, so a pump and air stone will be necessary. Larvae will hatch within 2- 3 weeks. They will require their first feed around 24 hours after they hatch. Feed the larvae daily on daphnia, white worms and bloodworm. Larvae can be cannibalistic so separate them into individual containers if possible. If not, ensure that they have plenty of room so cannibalism can be avoided. As the larvae become juveniles you can increase the variety of food substances that may be fed to your Axolotls. Chopped up earthworms and bloodworm are a good choice to begin their transition onto larger prey items.

Varieties

There are 5 different colour variations in Axolotls. The wild types are either olive green to dark grey or brown, whilst the black, albino and leucistic (golden coloured) Axolotls are more typically found in the pet trade. All Axolotls keep their larval appearance throughout their lives and have 3 noticeable gills branching out from either side of their neck area. These gills have a feathery appearance. Axolotls also have four lizard like legs and a long, flat tail.