The care that goes into keeping reptiles and amphibians is considered a bit extreme for some animal lovers. These exotic pets need a whole different spectrum of care and upkeep, unlike your regular cat or dog. For this reason, it’s not every day that you meet someone who owns a snake, salamander, or axolotl.
However, rarity isn’t the only criteria for adoption when it comes to those who love their scaley or slippery friends. These pets have their own unique personalities, charm, and, of course, coolness factor. Some exotic pet owners even claim their pet chose them, not the other way around.
Axolotls not only hit the mark on rarity, being an endangered subspecies of salamander, but are also loved for their cuteness, sea-dragon-like appearance, calming presence, and relatively easy upkeep.
But do axolotls bite? Yes, axolotls bite everything and anything that moves around in their vicinity, but their teeth are too small to cause much pain. Axolotls aren’t aggressive to humans; they are simply hunting for food or nipping out of self-defense.
Before you decide to cross axolotls from your list of wanted pets, read on to find out more about the reasoning behind axolotls’ strangely nippy behavior.
Why Do Axolotls Bite?
It isn’t that axolotls are sinister or vicious by nature, nor are these slippery amphibians voracious eaters. The reason why axolotls bite is simply because they are wired to believe that all moving things are potential food. And, the lesser the threat the approaching entity presents, the higher the probability is that it’s food.
You see, axolotls come from an environment where they are one of the top predators. The Xochimilco Lake, where axolotls originate, has a flourishing underwater ecosystem. And yes, this is the only place on earth where they have been found in the wild.
Moreover, this lake isn’t full of huge predators, so these darling wild axolotls are kings of their habitat. They’re not wired for fear or aggression, but simply to feed their bellies.
So, you should expect your hand to get a bitten every time you put your hand into the tank to move them. Yet, axolotls have small and not very sharp teeth. In short, even if your axolotls bite, you’ll hardly feel the pain. In most cases, their bite doesn’t even pierce the skin, which means there will be little or no bleeding.
How to Handle Your Axolotls
An axolotl isn’t your average pet. If you’re looking for a new cuddle buddy, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Even disregarding their nippy nature, these little guys are completely aquatic and won’t do well in the air for long.
Just like fish, you can’t really handle axolotls. You can, of course, try to gently take it when you have to remove it from its tank. Just make sure you’re putting them right back in another source of clean water. And, you can even hand feed your axolotls if you wish to create a bond.
However, you’ll always have to use extra caution, as the skin of axolotls is super thin and slimy. Also, these amphibians have such delicate constitutions, and you have to be ultra-cautious about their care.
Another vital fact that you have to remember when it comes to axolotls is that they don’t have a protective layer of skin on their bodies. This means they can be injured easily, but it doesn’t mean they can’t bounce back. In fact, axolotls can regenerate organs and even regrow missing limbs!
However, even if your axolotls are aware of your presence and don’t shy away from your touch, it is still recommended that you not hold them for too long, as that will make your pet more susceptible to infection.
What to Do When You Get Bitten
You ought to always be prepared to be bitten when you put your hands in your axolotl’s tank. But, there shouldn’t be any fear of injury, as an axolotl bite has minimal pressure or sting.
Their teeth aren’t even sharp enough to puncture human skin; it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon scenario when your finger bleeds from an axolotl’s bite.
However, any parent will tell you that it is wise to prepare for any or all eventualities. You’ll need to clean the bitten area with an alcohol squab and then put an antibacterial band-aid on it (we’d recommend these ones).
The thing you should remember as an axolotl guardian is that they have far more to fear from you than you have from them. So, if you do get a finger that is bleeding from an axolotl bite, it’s not yourself you should be worrying about. Check on your axolotl to make sure they haven’t been hurt accidentally.
While axolotls can regenerate broken tissue and even limbs and organs, this process takes time and is a worst-case scenario. Handling them gently is always the best course of action for the sake of the animal.
The best thing to do before and after you’ve put your hand into your axolotls’ tank is to wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap. That’ll keep you safe from things like salmonella and be the best precautionary measure you can take to keep your precious pet safe from any disease as well.
It is far easier to find information about axolotls today than it was ever before, as axolotls slowly climb the ladder in popularity.
But if your curiosity is still piqued, read on to find answers to the most commonly asked queries that some interested folk have about axolotls.
Can You Get Salmonella Handling an Axolotl?
You can get salmonella handling axolotls. You see, it is common in amphibians to carry salmonella. And, once they contract salmonella, they have it for life. It’s a no-cure situation for your axolotls as far as salmonella goes, but axolotls are not physically affected by salmonella.
On the contrary, it is the person who comes into contact with the axolotls that has chances of getting sick. We get quite ill when we contract salmonella.
You can expect everything from nausea and vomiting to diarrhea if you’ve got salmonella. However, it is effortless to keep yourself safe from salmonella. No, you don’t need to wear foot-long gloves.
You have to remember to wash your hands before and after coming into contact with your pet. If you have babies or have pregnant women living in your household, be extra careful to keep them away from your pet.
That’ll be all the effort you will have to put into making sure everyone stays safe and healthy.
Can You Keep Axolotls Around Other Fish?
Axolotls aren’t amiable beings. So, you can expect your axolotls to bite you and other axolotls around it for sure. That might not hurt you or other axolotls quite as bad, but when you put smaller-sized fish into your axolotl’s tank, you should expect to see carnage.
These beasts are harmless to you, but when their territory is invaded, especially by anything smaller than them, you will find your axolotls feed quite greedily on other creatures within their territory.
Keeping bigger fish around your axolotls isn’t a smart thing to do either. Axolotls love a good fight, and they don’t fight according to size.
So, you might place your amphibian in grave danger if you place it around other fish. Even if these larger fish do not feed on other creatures, it’s a significant risk to put axolotls with fish.
For more information, we have another article on this topic titled Can Axolotls Live With Fish?
What Parts of an Axolotl Should You Avoid Touching?
The most sensitive part of your axolotl’s anatomy is their gills and head. Even when these delicate areas are harmed in injuries caused by a fight between two axolotls, it can mean the death of your axolotls.
Damage to your axolotl’s gills can impair their ability to breathe. However, they are capable of regenerating their gills over time and are able to supplement their oxygen intake by gulping in air above the surface of the water, kind of like how whales use their blowholes.
However, animal experts and owners alike claim an axolotl’s gills are their Achilles’ Heel. Even when you are being extra cautious not to hurt your pet, it will still behave like it has been grievously injured.
That is the area where your axolotl’s weakness lies, and if you touch that weak spot, you will inadvertently freak your axolotl out.
The head is another feature of the axolotl’s body that is very precious for your pet. It isn’t a good idea to touch axolotls on their heads, as they don’t seem to appreciate it.
They tend to race away when you try and reach straight for their head. Hence, you can assume that it is either a soft spot for your axolotls or anything coming right for their head means grave peril for them.
How Do You Take Care of an Axolotl?
If you’re still interested in getting an axolotl despite their not-so-cuddly nature, there are a lot of things you should know about their care and habitat. Here’s a helpful guide from the Girl Talks Fish channel on YouTube.
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