What do Axolotls Eat? – Top Feeding and Fun Facts. The axolotl, sometimes known as a Mexican salamander or Mexican walking fish, has grown in popularity in recent years due largely to its adorable features.
Memes and viral videos involving axolotls may have started the ball rolling, but genuine interest has followed suit. Unfortunately, such interest is a double edged sword. While heightened popularity has raised awareness for its waning population, it has also led to many looking to have axolotls as exotic pets.
We look at what do axolotls eat by examining their diet in the wild and captivity. We also explore some fun facts about these incredible creatures!
Characteristics of the axolotl
The axolotl is a curious species of amphibian that never goes through the process of metamorphosis. They are physically immature even when they reach adulthood, and they retain characteristics of younger individuals in their species.
These creatures are endemic to the Valley of Mexico basin and have been in critical danger of extinction since at least 2006.
Lake in Mexico City is an ancient lake which has been very important to the indigenous population of Mexico. In recent years, it has become a large recreational space and tourist attraction where colorful boats wade up and down with festivities happening on-board.
Unfortunately, this has helped to severely decrease the wild population numbers of the axolotl. The introduction of predatory fish has also been a contributing factor. However, conservationists have implemented refuges and other schemes to help bolster their numbers once again.
The axolotl is a deep-water amphibian that primarily lives among abundant vegetation, but it occasionally surfaces for air. In captivity, the axolotl is relatively abundant.
This is due, in part, to their wide use in research; they have the ability to regenerate body parts. Researchers hope that understanding this ability will eventually help humans to do the same.
The axolotl is easily distinguished by its peculiar (and adorable) physical characteristics:
- Elongated body that can reach up to 30 cm in length.
- A total of 6 external gills which reside behind the top of their head, absorbing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.
- Small black eyes.
- Smooth, soft and elastic skin.
- Fine elongated fingers.
- Retractable tongue.
- Tiny teeth arranged in rows.
- Large buccal cavity (mouth).
- Flat tail which serves as a fin to swim.
- Visible blood vessels.
The axolotl is easily distinguished by its unique and endearing physical characteristics. In the wild, axolotls can vary in color from brown to green to gray, often with darker spots. In captivity, we can find clear and albino variations, such as the pink or golden axolotl.
Axolotls reach sexual maturity at around 12 to 18 months of age. Once a year, females lay 100 to 300 eggs, which they attach to rocks or aquatic vegetation. The offspring are born 10 to 14 days later and begin their life without their parents’ assistance.
So if you’re looking for a special and unusual pet, the axolotl might be the perfect choice!
Can you have a pet axolotl?
There are many different kinds of pets that people keep, and some require more care than others. This isn’t to say that all pets don’t need love and attention, but some Companion animals have specific requirements that not everyone is able to cater to.
For example, you can have an axolotl as a pet, but they are not for everyone. Considered an exotic pet, they have a delicate physiology which means their environment needs to be carefully controlled. If you’re thinking of getting an axolotl as a pet, make sure you’re prepared to care for them properly.
There are some general guidelines for taking care of an axolotl. They help us take care of them without damaging their delicate skin or gills, which is essential for their breathing. These guidelines include:
- – Only using soft, clean cloths to handle them
- – Avoiding sudden movements or changes in temperature
- – Keeping their tank clean and well-oxygenated
Following these guidelines will help you take care of your axolotl and keep them healthy and happy.
Each axolotl should have their own tank which should be a minimum of 10 gallons. However, ideally they should have a 20 gallon tank or bigger. They grow to around 6 to 15 inches long, although they don’t usually grow over a foot. They like to roam and need the space to do so. You should never keep axolotls with other animals as they are very delicate and even small fish can nip and tear their skin.
Juvenile axolotl need to be reared in separate tanks as they can eat each other. When they are adults, they can be put into the same tank, but will need close monitoring as they may attack.
Axolotls need to stay in cool, dark tanks. The temperature of the aquarium should be around 14.5ºC (58ºF) and well-maintained. You can have some lighting, but it can’t be bright, and there needs to be dark places for them to seek refuge.
Axolotls have very sensitive skin. They are not hard-skinned reptiles, and if their skin is damaged, it can be fatal. Their gills in particular are very sensitive, so even picking them up can cause them damage. Don’t pick them up by hand; use a soft net to transfer them.
Keep tanks covered as they can jump out of them. Have a rock or something at the top of the tank so they can’t escape.1. Sodium chloride (NaCl) – 3.46g
- 2. Potassium chloride (KCl) – 0.05g
- 3. Calcium chloride (CaCl2) – 0.1g
- 4. Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) – 0.2g
If you’re looking for an adorable pet that doesn’t require much interaction, the axolotl may be a good option for you. However, they do require some time and effort to care for properly, so they’re not suitable for everyone. Additionally, they are not legal in all areas, so be sure to check the laws in your region before purchasing one. If you buy an axolotl in a region where they are illegal, you will be supporting bad practices that may not protect the animal’s best interests.
The axolotl is an amphibian with a carnivorous diet. Their teeth allow them to grab their food, but not to tear or chew it. This means they have to swallow their food whole. When they spot their prey in the wild, the axolotl opens their mouth to very wide dimensions and sucks in water along with their food.
Their food can be differentiated by live and dry types:
Live food: small crustaceans, worms, earthworms, slugs, snails, crickets, mosquito larvae, frog tadpoles, occasionally small fish and other organisms as may be found in Mexico’s Lake Xochimilco.
Dry food: in captivity, it is likely you will need to offer the axolotl dried shrimp or other foods which you might offer to turtles or large fish. However, you should not give them flakes or fish food which will drop to the bottom of the tank. This is because it encourages them to eat the substrate which can be problematic.
In addition to offering the axolotl cooked meat, you should also offer them smaller pieces of meat such as chicken, chicken liver or beef. Although these animals can go without eating for up to a week, it is recommended that you feed them at least once or twice a week.
Top Fun facts about the axolotl
If you’re interested in learning more about the amazing axolotl, here are some interesting facts about this creature in the wild:
- Unlike most amphibian species, the axolotl reaches adulthood without metamorphosis.
- They have both simple lungs and gills. The lungs mean they can breathe on land, but this should not be for extended periods of time.
- They can also breathe through their skin.
- They have very expressive eyes, but lack eyelids.
- Their name means ‘water-dog’ from atl meaning “water” and xolotl meaning “dog”.
- They are well renowned in Mexican folklore and the word xolotl comes from the god of the same name. In Mexican mythology it was believed this god would sometimes transform into the axolotl to hide from danger.
- While it is relatively uncommon, it is possible for axolotls to live up to 20 years in captivity, while they are more likely to survive a maximum of 6 years in the wild.
- The species has been used for medical studies and even in ancient rituals.
- While they may not look very tasty, they were also a food source for indigenous Mexican peoples.
- Their natural predators are the tilapia fish and the white heron, although their biggest enemy has been humans.
If you have any of your own interesting facts about axolotls, please feel free to leave us a comment below to share with the community.
If you want to learn more about what axolotls eat and how to properly feed them, be sure to check out our Healthy diets category. You’ll find articles with helpful tips and fun facts that will make caring for your axolotl a breeze!