Tiger salamander, though quite popular among people keeping pocket pets, an also branch out to adopt is known as Axolotls. These delectable creatures look like a cross between a salamander and some fish at first sight. They are actually what you can call exotic since there is slight chance that you can get your hands on one or a pair of these. The Axolotls are native to Mexico, and what is more intriguing or alarming, whichever suits the occasion, is the fact that the name given to these creatures are also used to signify various species of Ambystoma, an edible food source!
And the intrigues continue to come! The Axolotls are neotonic in nature like the Tiger salamander. Now you must be wondering what that means. Well, if any creature is neotenic, it means that it will not undergo metamorphosis from the larval to the adult form like other salamanders but with the aid of the gills in the larval form, become capable of reproduction in an aquatic environment. This, however, is not all when an Axolotl is concerned. Not only are they neotenic, they can also metamorphose into a terrestrial variety but this often causes them unwanted stress and they do not exercise this agency under ordinary circumstances.
Have you noticed how a lizard’s tails grows back after being wounded? Well, nerds among us might want to relate that to Adamentium (Wolverine’s powers of regeneration), but on a more realistic level, Axolotls have miraculous powers of regeneration, so much so that not only tails but any part of their body can grow back. They are exceptionally invincible for this reason and incredibly hardy. If the water quality is good, they can live up to fifteen years in confinement. There is however one loophole to their otherwise invincibility. They have very sensitive skin and gills, and it is probably in their best interests that they are not handled unless absolutely necessary.
And you thought the list of surprises was over, did you? Well, not quite. If their noetenic habits and their powers of regeneration was not enough surprises, they, especially the young Axolotls exhibit cannibalistic tendencies towards each other so if you want to adopt more than one of these absolutely queer creatures, you must make necessary arrangements to keep them in isolated enclosures. There is very few reported cases of cannibalistic tendencies in adult axolotls but you might want to keep a lookout for them, just in case. However, since they can grow back a body part in very less time, there is a very slight chance of their being grievously hurt due to such disposition. So, keeping things simple, you just don’t have to worry, mate!
Housing is one of the chief concerns while keeping an axolotl. Since they can really get quite large, I would recommend you to house it in at least a twenty gallon tank. This however does not mean that you need to fill water to the brim( trust me, that will ward off at least half of potential owners!) . If you manage to fill as much water as will keep your pet submerged, it will be more than enough for it. You can also opt for a filtered aquarium since they are easier to maintain, and thus, more popular. Cleaning the tank is nonpareil. However, you should take proper care that the filter intake should be carefully placed so that is does not trap the gills. You can use a siphon to vacuum the bottom f the vacuum the bottom of the tank, alongwith a twenty percent water change every week. If is recommended that you use tap water and not distilled water so that the pH of the water remains in the range f 6.5 to 7.5.
Now you might want to add some variety and introduce some colourful gravel. When doing this, you should keep in mind that it is coarse gravel and not fine gravel that you should use. One of the main reasons of this is because there is a high possibility that your pets might ingest the fine particles during feeding.
Temperature is another important pointer to consider if you are intending to keep an Axolotl as pet. The tank should be housed in such a place that is away from bright sunlight. It is very important that the water be kept cool, ranging between 58-69 F, and under no circumstances should it shoot over 75F. Axolotls require no special lighting, and are more habituated to a world which is relatively dark.
In the wilderness, Axolotls fee on small amphibians and fishes to crustaceans, worms and snails. You can feed them an assortment of commercial fish pellets of salmon or trout, bloodworms, tubifex worms, earthworms to brine shrimp and strips of liver or even beef depending on your mood. You must, however, endeavour to give your pets a balanced diet, and if you are alarmed( and I understand that there is ample reason to be), you might opt for customized Axolotl feeding pellets which you can obtain from the internet or if you are a native of Mexico, you might even consider driving to the Indians University Axolotl Colony. Whatever food you give, do be careful about removing uneaten excess food from the tank on a regular basis.