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Welcome to Western Axolotl - Your trusted source for healthy axolotls! Here are some of our responses to frequently asked questions. Should you have questions not answered here, please contact us!
What are axolotls?Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) are a type of amphibian and salamander from the genus Ambystoma. Other familiar members of this genus include tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum) and California tiger samalanders (Ambystoma californiense). These similar species, like almost all species of salamanders begin as aquatic larve (like tadpoles) but, after some time, metamorphose into land-dwelling adults. Axolotls evolved in an aquatic environment that didn't have many predators and lots of food so it was an advantage for them to stay in the water as adults. Over time, they lost the ability to transition into terrestrial adults but instead retain their juvenille characteristics. In other words, they are salamanders that spend their entire lives in the water. Though axolotls are nearly extinct in the wid, they are alive and well in the research labs and the pet trade!
What are the frilly things on the sides of their heads?Those are external gills and how they breathe. Sometimes youwill see them beathing the gills to get oxygen out of the water.
What do they eat?Like all amphibians, axolotls are carnivores. They eat any animal that is smaller than them! When they are young, they must eat moving prey, but after a few weeks they can move on to prey that doesn't move. We typically feed the youngest axies frozen blood worms from local pet stores then quickly graduate them to our soft pellets that meet the needs of growing axolotls. Earthworms do well once they get big enough to eat them.
Are they hard to take care of?Taking care of axolotls is a lot like taking care of fish-- so if you are good at that, you should be ok. There are four things to keep in mind with axolotl care: 1) Water Chemistry-- Keeping the ammonia levels down can be hard when establishing a tank. Lots of fish sites have info on this, and it is really important. 2) Substrate-- Axolotls will eat rocks that they can fit in their mouths then can't pass these. Stick with sand, giant rocks or no substrate. 3)Temperature-- Axies like it cold. Under 70F (20 C) is ideal. 4)Filtration-- low flow filters are the best. Axies are from lakes and high-flow filters can stress them out.
Sharing a tank?Though it imght be tempting, it is best not to house axolotls with other critters. They will eat anything smaller, and fish can chew on their gills as well. After axies are a few months old, they get along with each other pretty well, but it is best to keep axolotls of similar sizes together anyway.
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