Are Axolotls Good Pets? [YES, Here’s WHY!]

Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) are a species of salamander native to the high-altitude lakes of Mexico City, Mexico. In the last 20 years or so axolotls have become popular exotic pets. Their rise to fame with the younger generations was recently boosted by popular video games such as Minecraft and Roblox Adopt Me; as well as the Pokemon TV series.

Nonetheless, the general public still knows very little about axolotls. In fact, most people have never even heard about them! As an axolotl owner, I often get asked if axolotls are good pets. Here’s my honest opinion:

Axolotls are great pets! Axolotls are docile, which makes them child-friendly. They’re fun to watch and care for and elicit a lot of curiosity from friends and family. They’re also pretty low-maintenance pets when compared with dogs for example. However, there is a learning curve! Axolotls are very sensitive to the temperature and quality of their water, as well as lighting conditions. They have a peculiar diet, rich in worms and insects, which you won’t like if you’re squirmy. They don’t like to be handled by their owners and prefer solitude over the company of other aquatic creatures.

This is just a brief overview of the pros and cons of axolotl ownership. If you want more details, check out the sections below.

Table of Contents

Are Axolotls Good Pets Featured Image

How Hard Is It to Care for An Axolotl?

Caring for an axolotl is not particularly hard. Axolotls are not difficult pets. However, they are living creatures with specific needs which need to be met if you want them to be happy, healthy, and live long lives.

In my opinion, axolotls are easier to take care of than a dog for example. Dogs need to be walked and fed several times per day. They require a lot of space to run and roll about. They can often be noisy, and messy, and can be smelly too. And, because they’re very smart animals, they need a lot of play and interaction to keep them stimulated and happy. Don’t get me wrong: I love dogs! But they can be a handful and require a lot of attention and care.

On the other hand, axolotls are much less demanding. They’re pretty low-maintenance and easier to care for. As long as you pay attention to a handful of very specific requirements such as water quality, water temperature, lighting, food, and tank mates – they’re very straightforward.

I’d say that axolotls are on par with tropical fish in terms of how difficult they are to look after. Tropical fish need the salinity and temperature of their water to be within specific ranges, otherwise, they can become ill and die. They also need to be fed certain specific foods, and their tank mates need to be chosen wisely to avoid fighting or predation. The situation is pretty similar with axolotls.

Check out How To Set Up An Axolotl Tank [Beginner’s Guide] to find out more about the specific needs of axolotls. It covers everything you need to know about setting up your first axolotl tank.

What Are the Cons of An Axolotl?

Before I tell you why axolotls are such great pets, let’s get the cons out of the way. After all, if you feel that the inconveniences below are going to be an obstacle on your journey to axolotl ownership, it’s probably best not to get an axolotl just yet.

Are Axolotls Sensitive?

Axolotls are very sensitive creatures. If certain conditions are not fulfilled, they can easily become stressed, ill and/or even die. Here are the main aspects of axolotl care that you’ll need to master:

  • Water quality (free of chlorine/chloramines, heavy metals, ammonia/ammonium, etc.).
  • Water temperature (axolotls prefer cooler temperatures).
  • Lighting (axolotls get very stressed out by strong, direct lighting).
  • Diet (pet axolotls mainly eat worms and insects).
  • Tank mates (axolotls prefer to live on their own).
  • Handling (axolotls dislike being touched or lifted out of the water).

Is It Ok to Touch an Axolotl?

Axolotls don’t like to be touched or held by their owner. They have sensitive skin covered by a protective slime coat. They prefer to be left alone in their tank. You should limit your interaction with them to feeding them, and perhaps occasionally removing them from their tank if you need to carry out maintenance.

Moreover, axolotls don’t like to be taken out of the water. They are purely aquatic creatures. In the wild, they live underwater and don’t really venture out onto land. It sometimes happens, but it’s rare. Therefore, axolotls aren’t the type of pet that you can have fun holding, petting down, and carrying around. And, you certainly won’t be taking it outside to show your friends!

What Food Do Axolotls Eat?

Axolotls eat a variety of worms, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, larvae, and small fish. As juveniles, they also have cannibalistic tendencies and can eat their siblings.

So, if you’re a squirmish type of person who shivers at the sight of a worm, maggot, or cricket – axolotls aren’t going to work for you! Unless you move out of your comfort zone that is. After all, the worms and insects axolotls eat are harmless and once you overcome your fear and disgust, feeding time can actually be amusing. As a matter of fact, most axolotl owners will tell you that feeding time is the most entertaining part of axolotl ownership.

Do Axolotls Bond With Their Owner?

For more details on this specific topic, check out my article Do Axolotls Bond With Their Owner?

The short answer is NO. They don’t really bond with their owner or recognize their owner. So if you’re looking for a deep emotional connection with your pet, axolotls won’t satisfy that desire.

Do Axolotls Need An Exotic Pet Vet?

Axolotls are exotic pets. As such, not all vets are experts in this type of animal. So, whilst a standard veterinarian will most likely be able to give you pretty good advice – and give your pet good care – they probably won’t know as much about axolotls as exotic pet vets or even axolotl breeders for example.

If your pet axolotl becomes ill with a condition very specific to axolotls, it can be hard to find an exotic pet vet in your area. Also, they can be expensive so that’s worth taking into consideration too.

Can You Have Axolotls As Pets?

Depending on the US state or country you live in, axolotls are either legal, legal but require a permit, or outright illegal. Therefore, axolotls will not be a good choice of pet if you live in a place where they are illegal.

What States Are Axolotls Illegal In? [50 State Guide] is an article dedicated to the legality of axolotls in all 50 US states (not legal advice). Make sure to check it out before buying an axolotl.

What Are the Pros of An Axolotl?

It’s my opinion that the advantages of owning an axolotl far outweigh the few negatives I discussed above. Here are some of the best aspects of owning axolotls. If you think of any more, please feel free to send your ideas across and I’ll add them to the list!

Wide Variety of Colors (Morphs)

Axolotls are above all beautiful creatures. In particular, the wide array of colors and patterns (aka morphs) they exist in makes them stand out from other pets.

Moreover, certain morphs are rarer than others. So, if you manage to get hold of one of the following axolotl morphs you’ll be part of a small group of people fortunate enough to have a very rare axolotl:

Unique Features

Axolotls have some amazing features that make them truly unique creatures. These features never cease to amaze me and always get conversations started whenever friends and family visit or when people ask if I have a pet.

Here are the main stand-out features:

  • Regenerative abilities (yes. you’ve read that correctly! They can grow back certain body parts…).
  • External gills (their external gills are the feathery protrusions on either side of their head),
  • Paedomorpic animals (this means that they retain their juvenile features into adulthood).
  • Large smiley mouths (axolotls look like they’re always smiling!).
  • 100% aquatic creatures (unlike other amphibians that become land-dwelling as adults).

How Many Years Do Axolotls Live?

Axolotls have pretty long lifespans compared to other aquatic pets such as goldfish for example. They will live anywhere from 10 to 15 years, which means that you will be able to spend a large share of your life with them.

How Much Do Axolotls Cost?

Axolotls can cost anywhere from $30 to $50 for the most common morphs, right up to several thousand USD for very rare morphs. Therefore, there is an axolotl morph for every budget!

However, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of setting up your very first axolotl tank, the cost of food, and any other associated costs (the occasional visit to the vet for example). All in all, axolotl ownership can be a bit pricey, especially if you’re on a budget.

Thankfully, axolotls don’t eat anywhere near as much as a dog or a cat. So, you’ll be able to save on food when compared with these other popular domestic pets. And, when you factor in the cost of buying a dog or cat and all the vaccinations, chipping, food, and accessories you’ll need for them too then axolotls are pretty cheap to own in comparison.

Are Axolotls a Good First Pet?

Are axolotls good pets for beginners? I think the answer depends on what age you are and how much experience you have in looking after pets or doing complicated chores around the house.

If you’re a child, you’ll likely need help from an adult to:

  • Set up the tank for the first time.
  • Ensure the water, temperature & lighting parameters are right before introducing your pet axolotl.
  • Monitor these parameters regularly (preferably daily) to identify problems early on.
  • Clean out the tank with the help of special tools to remove poop or uneaten food.
  • Carry out water changes when required.
  • Prepare your axolotls feed (may involve thawing out frozen worms or cutting up live ones).

Therefore, axolotls are perhaps not the EASIEST pet for beginners. However, if you want to learn how to be responsible and how to properly look after another living creature (or teach your kids how to), then axolotls are a great pet.

Sometimes, the best way to learn is just to jump in at the deep end (DO NOT try this in a swimming pool if you don’t ALREADY know how to swim!).


So, do axolotls make good pets? And, are axolotls good pets for beginners? My answers to those questions are YES, and YES.

Axolotls are unique creatures. They are in my opinion easier and cheaper to care for than a dog. However, they’re also challenging enough to look after that they make the entire experience interesting. Becoming an axolotl owner involves a lot more than buying one, taking it home, and giving it a cute axolotl name. Being an axolotl keeper requires consistency, attention, and dedication. And the learning curve can be a little steep, especially if you’re not prepared to put in the work.

But if you are perseverant and caring, there is absolutely no reason why you won’t make a great axolotl keeper!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Axolotls Good Pets for 12-Year-Olds?

Axolotls are good pets for 12-year-olds because they are not so hard to look after that it’s impossible to do so successfully (with perhaps a little help from older parents or siblings), yet they’re challenging enough to take care of that they will require attention, consistency, and dedication – which are all values that are useful in everyday life and will serve somebody throughout their life.

Are Axolotls Good Pets for 10-Year-Olds?

Axolotls are good pets for 12-year-olds because they are not so hard to look after that it’s impossible to do so successfully (with help from older family members), yet they’re challenging enough to take care of that they will require attention, consistency, and dedication – which are all values that are useful in everyday life and will serve somebody throughout their life.

Do Axolotls Make Noise?

Axolotls don’t make noise – apart perhaps from the odd splashing noise at the surface of their tank or the sound of substrate or gravel being tossed against the walls of their tanks when they suddenly zoom through the water or forage at the bottom of their tank. As a matter of fact, the filter and/or bubbler in their tank is often much louder than the axolotl itself.

Are Axolotls Messy?

Axolotls are messy creatures. They poop quite a lot, and often. And when their poop sacs burst, it can result in lots of waste particles being released into their tanks. Also, axolotls tend to leave a lot of uneaten food sink to the bottom of their tank. because their eyesight is relatively poor, they may not see it and forget about it. However, the mess is always contained to the axolotl tank and is very straightforward to clean up. Axolotls are relatively clean when compared with other animals such as birds or dogs for example.

How Big Do Axolotls Get?

Axolotls grow to approximately 1 foot / 12 inches (30 cm) maximum. Their tanks are generally a couple of feet long by a foot wide and a foot tall (approximately). So, axolotls don’t take up a lot of space and can easily be kept in a small house, apartment, or even a studio. Axolotls make a great pet for smaller homes.


Hello and welcome to Pets From Afar. I'm Glen. My daughter Siri and I are mad about axolotls. I created this website to document our findings and experiences, as we learn more about these amazing amphibians. Follow along and enjoy the fun!

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