Axolotls are wonderful creatures that can be incredibly cute to look at and lots of fun to look after. They can be a quite demanding pets to own, however. Despite their small size, they come with some big challenges that everyone should know about before considering them as a pet.
Here we are going to look at five things to consider before becoming an axolotl caregiver. The most important of these concerns is axolotl morphing or metamorphosis.
Many axolotls will experience this in their lifetime, and it can be a challenging period of time for both the animal and its owner. Axolotl morphing has a huge effect on how to care for an axolotl and every potential owner needs to know the basics.
What Is Axolotl Morphing?
Nearly every species on the planet goes through some form of metamorphosis in their lifetime. Frogs begin life as spawn in the water, before morphing into tadpoles and then growing into adult frogs. Humans go through metamorphosis too, growing from adolescents into adults and experiencing many changes in their bodies in the process.
Axolotl morphing is common, but not guaranteed. If an axolotl does morph significantly, it is between the juvenile and adult phases of its life. A hormone called thyroxine is released in the axolotl’s brain as it approaches adulthood, and this can stimulate huge changes in its body and behaviour.
Look here for an in-depth answer to the question what is axolotl morphing? The process and the reasons behind it are fascinating and axolotl morphing is one of the most popular reasons to have one as a pet, despite the extra challenges and costs it can bring.
Is It Bad For An Axolotl To Morph?
Axolotl morphing can be dangerous or even fatal to the creature. Depending on how dramatic the metamorphosis is, the axolotl’s body can be put under incredible strain.
Morphing also uses a lot of energy, yet axolotls will often lose their appetite during a metamorphosis. Their food preferences may also change, making feeding your axolotl even more difficult. A lack of adequate nutrition may be one of the most common causes of death for axolotls that are morphing or have morphed.
Many axolotls will morph from aquatic axolotls to terrestrial ones. This means that they will swim far less and spend more time on dry land. Becoming a land-loving creature is a massive change for an axolotl and can be distressing for them. They must behave differently to get the things they need from their new environment, like rest, food, and hydration. Many will struggle to adapt to their new life and new surroundings.
What Is A Morphed Axolotls Lifespan?
When an axolotl has morphed its lifespan can be reduced. This is often caused by the stress of the metamorphosis combined with the new challenges it faces to survive. If your axolotl is already sick or under-nourished when it begins morphing it may not live to complete the process.
In most circumstances, a morphed axolotl will not survive much longer than a few months. This can be in spite of your best efforts and the greatest levels of care. Though some morphed axolotls can live for a long time, the axolotls that have the longest lifespans tend to be the ones that never go through metamorphosis.
Caring for a morphed axolotl can be challenging for several reasons. If your axolotl morphs from an aquatic to a terrestrial creature you will need to change its habitat to help it adjust to this. Young axolotls suit living in an aquarium, occasionally coming to the surface for a gulp of air or to hunt a floating insect.
Terrestrial axolotls require a vivarium that provides both shallow waters to wade or swim in, and dry land to rest on and to hunt their prey. The cost of this environmental change can make looking after an axolotl expensive for some people, as can feeding them.
When an axolotl morphs its eating habits can vary wildly, and they become very fussy eaters. Owners will often spend, and waste, a lot of money on food during and after a morph. This is something that you should consider before getting an axolotl as a pet.
Do All Axolotls Morph?
Not every axolotl will go through a metamorphosis as a juvenile or an adult, but most will. Sometimes the changes may only be subtle, and your axolotl will remain an aquatic creature, but this is not guaranteed. If you do choose an axolotl as a pet, make sure you are prepared for morphing.
Colour changes are the most widely known form of axolotl morphing. Most axolotl colours will dull after metamorphosis and will possibly darken to deeper green shades. Sometimes the pattern on the skin of an axolotl can become more intense and intricate after morphing.
The shape and size of your axolotl can change from morphing, though they will become slightly smaller, not bigger. Their heads usually grow to accommodate larger, bulging eyes and eyelids. Their tail and fins may shrink or disappear completely. These changes are more common in axolotls that are becoming terrestrial, so look out for these to give you an early warning. You should begin planning a vivarium and stocking up on some varied foods if you notice these physical developments.
Can You Force An Axolotl To Morph?
This can be done but is seen as inhumane amongst most axolotl enthusiasts. If you are thinking about getting an axolotl only to force its metamorphosis, please reconsider. Axolotl morphing should only happen naturally. Axolotl metamorphosis can be bad for them.
The stress of morphing, and the distress the resulting morph can cause an axolotl, means forcing a morph is cruelty. Let your axolotl morph naturally if it morphs at all.
Axolotls are lovely creatures that can be very satisfying to care for. It is important you know about the demands they can place on their owners, and the changes they can go through as part of their natural development and growth.
Before you get one as a pet, consider these five points and how the challenges of raising an axolotl will impact your enjoyment. If it sounds like too much trouble for you then perhaps you should look at another amphibian to own as a pet.