If you’re looking to get a new pet, then there are so many choices. Depending on what you can do daily and how much you’re willing to change your routine, then you might be able to get quite a unique pet. One of the most unique pets out there is the Axolotl. If you’ve ever seen an axolotl then you know they are cute, water salamanders that look like they have a smile on their face. Here’s more information about axolotls and how much they might cost to own.
What is an Axolotl
The nickname of the axolotl is the Mexican walking fish. It’s a neotenic salamander. Despite its nickname, it’s not a fish and it’s an amphibian. They’re unusual amphibians because they reach adulthood without undergoing any kind of metamorphosis. Instead of developing lungs and moving to the land, adult axolotls remain Aquatic and they keep their gills.
Oftentimes, axolotls are confused with water dogs and mud puppies. These creatures have a resemblance to the axolotl but they are not closely related.
Wild axolotls are actually near extinction as of 2010 due to urbanization and water pollution. Invasive species such as tilapia and perch also lended a hand in its extinction. They’re an endangered species as listed by an organization and are used extensively in research because they can regenerate limbs. They were all sold as food in the past. All of this comes together to make it very rare to find an axolotl in the wild.
Mature axolotls are around 18 to 24 months old, and they’re usually around 6 to 18 inches in length. 9 inches long is the most common size of an axolotl.
Axolotls possess features that look like salamander larvae, including external gills and fin extending from the head. They have wide heads and lidless eyes. Their legs are short and underdeveloped, and they have long thin fingers. They have barely visible teeth because they don’t undergo metamorphosis to grow them. The primary method of feeding is by suction, so they don’t use their teeth. External gills are used for respiration and there’s buccal pumping to provide oxygen and their lungs you go pumping is when they go to the surface of the water and breathe.
Axolotls can come in a few different colors. They have four pigmentation genes, and mutations can be created to cause color variants. Pet breeders often cross all of the variant colors so there are some double recessive mutant traits that are common in pet axolotls. Axolotls have some ability to alter their color for camouflage and you might witness this if you own one.
Where to Buy Axolotls
There are few places where you can purchase an axolotl. You should try to purchase an axolotl from a breeder or an exotic pet dealer. Buying axolotls from the internet is not suggested. You should speak with a veterinarian specializing in exotic pets so you can find reputable stores and breeders. Going to a breeder or an exotic pet dealer might be more expensive but many suggest it so that you get an axolotl that’s healthy.
If you buy an axolotl from the internet there’s no telling what you’ll end up getting and it might die or end up with an illness during transport. To minimize the risk of you getting a bad Axolotl, going to a breeder where you can see the Axolotl in person is suggested. If you can see the Axolotl, you can ask more questions about what you need to do to take care of it and you can understand and see the different kinds of morphs of the axolotl.
How Much Do Axolotls Cost
Axolotls vary in their price tag. They are not an expensive pet in terms of up-front costs in purchasing the animal. Axolotls can cause anywhere between 25 USD to 50 USD. This is depending on where you purchase your axolotl. Pet stores don’t usually carry them because of their upkeep and rarity, so you might need to buy them from a reptile or amphibian specialty store. Breeders are also another option, but they might charge a little more. Depending on where you are, it might be easier to find an axolotl. If you’re in a big city, then you’re more likely to have breeders and amphibian specialty stores around you.
If you are going to order your axolotl online, you’ll likely be charged a 20 USD to 30 USD shipping fee for 2-day delivery and 40 USD to 50 USD for 1-day delivery.
If you are ordering your Axolotl from an online seller, you likely will be offered live arrival guarantees for your animal. And the event that your pet dies during transit, you might be able to get a refund or have another one sent to you free of cost. However, shipping fees are usually non-refundable so if you elect to replace the axolotl, you will have to pay for shipping.
Factors that Affect Axolotl Prices
The only thing that affects the price drastically is the morph or pattern of the axolotl.
The wild color is one of the basic color options. It’s a combination of blacks, greys, olive coloring, and greens. These colors are usually specs on its body. They usually start out a darker color when they’re younger and they might look almost black at their youngest. They lighten as they mature, so you might be a little confused as to what color they end up.
The Leucistic Axolotl might be better known as the pink axolotl. This is one of the prettiest colors of the Axolotl because his body is a very light or pale pink color. These axolotls have dark black or brown eyes and this sets them apart from some of the other pale axolotls. These pink axolotls will still develop freckles on their body depending on where they’re kept. They might even have a shiny ring around the pupil of it.
Another option is the white albino axolotl, which kind of looks like the leucistic axolotl. Albino animals lack pigmentation in their skin, which is why this axolotl is white. They will have no spots or freckles when they’re young, and don’t expect any to develop over time. They don’t have the pigment to make these darker colors. Their eyes are clear with red centers because of this lack of pigmentation. Many people like albino animals because of how unique they look.
There are some special, more expensive axolotl colors. These options have some special traits that might make them unique in comparison to some of the other axolotls.
The green fluorescent protein Axolotl isn’t a specific color because many of the axolotls have the green fluorescent protein. The green fluorescent protein is in the nutrition in their DNA that makes them glow bright green under a UV or black light. This is why it’s called the green fluorescent protein.
Another special Axolotl is the copper one. This color is only found in certain countries. You can find it in the US, Germany, and Australia. This copper color is a different form of the albino Axolotl. It’s a very pale copper color and it’s covered in darker copper freckles. They have tinted red eyes, but they might look more of a dark red.
The next kinds of axolotls listed are rare because they are caused by a mutation in the colored genes. These are more expensive axolotls because of their rarity.
The chimera morph is made when two eggs fuse and one side of the axolotl is from one egg and the other comes from the genes in the other egg. This is not something that can be duplicated by selective breeding. It’s only done by accident.
The color variation is split directly in the middle, which makes it look like halves of two different axolotls. There is a very low survival rate for this coloring because the sides are from two different eggs, which means they might grow at different rates. These axolotls have difficulties, so it’s not ideal for a pet owner.
The mosaic pattern is what happens when color genes code for different cells, each of which have different colors. There’s a mix of coloring on their body and a speckled pattern. These colors vary depending on what the genes coded for, so likely this makes for a very unique axolotl.
The piebald morph is one of the most common rare axolotls. It’s a leucistic axolotl that mutated to have pigment in places besides its face. They’re often described as having a “dirty face” because of this odd coloring, and this doesn’t often happen.
Cost of Care For Axolotls
The biggest cost of having an axolotl is the initial set up. You will need to purchase a 10 to 20 gallon tank and a filter system. If you are planning on getting only one adult, then a 10 gallon tank would be enough. This size would cost anywhere from $15 to $170 USD depending on the style and quality of tank you choose. To keep the water in the tank clean and be able to maintain the right water level, you will need a filter at all times. This will also be a big expense you might have to set money aside for as the most efficient tank filtration systems can cost up to $165 USD.
It is necessary to purchase a substrate for your axolotl’s tank. You can elect to put nothing at the bottom, but sometimes a smooth surface can cause stress to an axolotl as they aren’t able to grip very well with nothing to give them traction. Sand is recommended as the best substrate for axolotls because it allows them to place freely and dig at the bottom of their tank. Sand is not a concern if ingested. You can find pet safe sand at your local pet store with prices ranging from $5 for 10 lb to $20 USD for 20 lb of sand.
To keep your axolotl happy, it will need a place where it can hide and play around. You can create this space for your pet by adding caves, live or plastic plants, rocks, or small hides to its tank. These accessories can cost anywhere from a dollar to $30 USD each.
Axolotls are carnivores and they will eat live or dead food. Young axolotls should be fed every day until they reach maturity when their feeding schedule can be cut back to every other day. Worms are the most common nutritional food for axolotls. Black worms, earthworms, bait worms, and red wrigglers are popular choices to feed your pet. Axolotls also like bloodworms (view on Amazon) which are Midge larvae and the ideal well-balanced food for your pet. To get an idea how much the food will cost, on average, bloodworms cost $19 USD for 1/4 pound and $11 for 10 grams of black worms.
You can also choose to feed your axolotl pellet food (view on Amazon) which can be purchased online or at pet shops for $4 to $8 USD for 100 grams. If you want to change up the normal food you feed your axolotl, you can treat it by feeding it foods like brine shrimp at least once a week. This will offer some variety and add different nutrients to its diet. You can purchase cubed frozen brine shrimp for around $8 USD for a 4oz pack.
Axolotls are prone to bloating which is caused by the way it is being fed. These animals eat by sucking in food similarly to a vacuum cleaner. When it experiences bloating oh, this means that the stomach becomes overstretched by excessive gas. If you are treating your Axolotl for this condition, daily medicine and clean cold water are necessities. You can purchase laxatives used for humans to also treat your axolotl’s bloating, just make sure to not buy flavored laxatives.
To keep your axolotl in its healthiest state, routine checkups with a vet are recommended. Vet visits cost around $40 to $60 USD for a normal visit and $100 or more for any emergency care.
Axolotls can sound like a big investment, but it’ll be really fun to have such a unique pet in your home. As long as you buy your axolotls from a reputable place, you should have no issue having a new, amazing pet.