Axolotls 101

As exotic pets become more and more popular, a few animals that were relatively unknown not long ago have started winning people’s hearts. One adorable little guy that is winning lots of new fans is the axolotl. A Lexington, KY vet discusses axolotl care below.


The axolotl originated in the Mexican lakes of Xochimilco and Chalco. They may be small and cute, but they have a pretty impressive backstory. According to legend, Xolotl, the Aztec fire god, disguised himself as a salamander to escape being sacrificed. That isn’t the only unique thing about these guys. Unlike most amphibians, they don’t go through metamorphosis as they grow: they just get bigger. They also remain in the water their entire lives. With proper care, axolotls can live about 15 years. Although they’re becoming popular pets, they are listed as critically endangered in the wild. Be sure to buy from responsible stores or breeders.


Wild axolotls eat aquatic bugs and larvae, as well as small fish and other amphibians. Pets can have a variety of critters, including bloodworms, red wigglers, frozen brine, and nightcrawlers. You can also offer axolotl food pellets. For treats, you can offer shrimp or even beef. While axolotls are not picky eaters, the amount of food they get and the timing of their meals will vary, both as they grow and according to their tastes. They’ll stop eating when full, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly. Ask your vet for advice.


Axolotls are typically hardy, but, fire god origin or no, they are susceptible to illness and injury. The most common causes of health issues are bad water quality and stress. Watch for warning signs, such as pale gills, weight loss, lethargy, and stiff movement. Parasites are another concern. If you keep axolotls together, always quarantine new ones before putting them into a community tank. It’s also worth noting that you should never try to handle these guys, as you can damage their skin. If you have to move your pet, use a container or net.


Axolotls are quite calm, and usually sleep during the day. As you may have noticed, they look like they’re smiling, which is a big part of their charm. It’s also fun to watch them digging around in their tanks! 

Contact us, your Lexington, KY animal clinic, for all your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help! 

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