Axolotls – introduction

Information about the physical and behavioural characteristics of axolotls.

Varietal range differences

Axolotls are amphibians that are a type of salamander. The species is available in a variety of colours including nearly black, albino, golden and pied. Different strains differ in their ability to metamorphose into terrestrial salamanders, with many individuals unable to metamorphose.

Axolotls are suitable animals for primary schools, inner city schools and schools with space limitations as they live in small enclosures indoors and allow students to observe animal behaviour as well as teaching children the responsibilities involved in caring for an animal.

Physical characteristics

Characteristic Details
Size 20 - 30cm
Weight at birth Axolotls are oviparous or egg laying.
Age at adult size 16 cm. Axolotls are neotenic, that is, they attain sexual maturity without first metamorphosing from their gilled larval stage to the terrestrial adult stage.
Gestation period Eggs are laid one day after indirect fertilization. At room temperature, embryos will hatch in two to three weeks.
Clutch size 300 - 1000 eggs.
Range Sexual maturation From one year.
Life span 12 - 15 years.

Behavioural characteristics

Axolotls are not particularly interesting animals to observe. They are quite inactive, often not moving for a number of hours and when they do move, they are very slow. Axolotls are typically lazier in colder conditions and more active if their water is warmer.

Axolotls are interesting in that they can regenerate their body parts. If an axolotl is attacked by a predator, they can release one of their appendages in order to escape. The appendage will then grow back after a short period of time.

Axolotls are solitary animals and can be active at any time of the day but they are generally more active during the night. If exposed to bright light axolotls will usually seek shade or cover from the light, sheltering under overhangs, rocks or vegetation. They communicate with each other mostly via visual cues or chemical cues when mating. Both chemical and visual cues are also used to perceive their surroundings and discover prey.

In their natural environment, axolotls are a predator and will eat molluscs, fish, insects and worms. When different sized axolotls are kept together, cannibalism can be a problem if the animals are not fed appropriately.


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