Can You Hold An Axolotl?

The axolotl, or Mexican walking fish, is becoming increasingly popular as a pet. This is mainly due to how otherworldly it looks, in a cute kind of way. It sort of looks like a mixture between a salamander and a fish, and should be kept in a tank

If you get a pet axolotl, then you will likely be tempted to pet the axolotl and maybe even hold it. You might be wondering if it can walk outside of the tank.

But…can you hold an axolotl?

Axolotls can be held, but should not be. They shouldn’t really be handled at all, unless absolutely necessary. Despite having legs, axolotls are aquatic animals and spend their entire lives underwater. They are also highly known for being very sensitive to touch due to their porous and slimy skin.

If you want to know exactly how you should hold an axolotl, as well as other related information, keep on reading. We’re going to tell you everything that you need to know!

Table of Contents

Can You Hold An Axolotl Featured Image

Do Axolotls Like To Be Held?

Axolotls do not like to be held or handled. They they have highly sensitive skin and their bodies are predominantly composed of cartilage, not bone. As a result, they are pretty fragile. Axolotls become stressed quite easily, especially when held.

This means that when you try to pick them up and hold them, they’re likely not going to be happy. That being said, some axolotls are more extroverted than others. And, if they like you, they might tolerate being held for a little while without issue.

However, this is a general rule. Some axolotls react differently to being held. As long as the axolotl is comfortable in your presence and doesn’t mind being handled a little by you, it’s okay to hold it for a brief amount of time.

However, it is important not to do this too often. Only do it for a short amount of time and to hold the axolotl in an appropriate manner. Also make sure your hands are properly washed with soap, thoroughly rinsed and are still humid when you do so.

This means that you should avoid holding the axolotl as much as possible and then when you do hold it, make sure you do it right. But…how do you hold an axolotl properly?

How To Hold An Axolotl

Holding an axolotl properly is something that you need to know. On occasion, you’re going to have to pick up your axolotl in order to move it so you can clean its tank or for other care-related purposes. So how should you handle an axolotl?

Well, the most important thing is to master the right kind of grip. The axolotl will likely struggle against you as they do not like to be picked up and might try and escape. This means you have to have a firm grip around them to keep them still and safe.

However, the grip needs to be gentle at the same time because they have very sensitive skin and become stressed easily. So you have to make sure you are holding the axolotl securely with both hands firmly wrapped around the animal without applying pressure onto it.

You must use both hands so that the grip is more secure and so that you can make sure the axolotl doesn’t wiggle its way free. Especially because the axolotl might try to jump out of your grasp, in which case it will fall and possibly break a leg, or similar.

They are quite fragile so the handling needs to be done carefully and safely! But as you can see, holding an axolotl is not an easy task so only ever handle one if you really have to or the axolotl is comfortable!

Are Axolotls Aggressive?

If you have never handled or held an axolotl before, and you find yourself in a situation in which you have to pick one up or you want to try holding one, you might be worried about being bitten or hurt. Are axolotls aggressive? They don’t much like being held and touched so will it lash out at you and hurt you?

Axolotls are not aggressive animals, so you have nothing to worry about. Although the axolotl might try to wriggle free and get away, it will not actively try to harm you. In fact, they are some of the most peaceful and relaxed animals that you can have as a pet and in an aquarium! If anything, axolotls are incredibly shy and timid and will often just hide or run away or simply keep their distance.

That being said, the axolotl might try to bite you out of fear when you try to pick it up. Especially if your finger is within reach! But the good news is that if an axolotl bites you, it will not really hurt. In fact, you will only flinch at first, out of surprise, but it doesn’t even feel uncomfortable.

In fact, it can be quite a fun experience to have an axolotl bite you! This is because they have very soft teeth that feel kind of rubbery. They are designed to grip onto food but they cannot rip or tear. So the axolotl bite will not hurt in the slightest.

So there you have it. You have nothing to worry about when picking up an axolotl because it will not be aggressive, and even if it bites you (out of fear, or because it thinks your finger is a worm), it will not hurt in the slightest.

Can You Hold An Axolotl Out Of Water?

Can You Hold An Axolotl Out Of Water

Since axolotls are aquatic animals that live within a tank, you might be wondering if it’s safe to hold them out of the water. After all, you wouldn’t do that with a normal fish, unless it is to quickly transfer them to a different tank. So what about with the axolotl?

The truth is that axolotls can be held out of the water a little more than normal fish can. So yes, you can hold an axolotl out of water. However, it is very important that the axolotl does not stay outside of the water for too long, or else it will start to suffer some negative consequences.

It is true that axolotls have both gills and lungs, so technically they can breathe out of the water. But their lungs are duminetary and they can’t breathe as effectively with them as they can breathe through their gills or skin. So, they prefer to be in the water. They really can’t stay outside for too long, as they start to suffer damage.

As a general rule, an axolotl can stay out of water for a couple of hours at max. That is as long as it is staying moist and hydrated. If the skin dries out, it’s very bad news. I personally wouldn’t advise taking them out of the water at all, even for a couple of seconds.

So if you are going to be holding your axolotl out of the tank, make sure it is not for too long, and that the axolotl is moist and hydrated the entire time!

What Happens If An Axolotl Stays Out Of The Water For Too Long?

Okay so an axolotl can’t stay out of water for too long or else it will start to suffer some negative consequences and damage. But what exactly are these consequences? What happens to an axolotl if it stays outside for too long?

Here are the main consequences of an axolotl being out of water for too long:

  • Damage to their limbs and organs (they are not designed to walk out of the water and putting their weight on their limbs for too long can cause severe harm).
  • Dehydration and breathing problems (if they are not kept moist, the protective layer of mucus on their skin will dry out and without that, they will not be able to properly absorb oxygen)
  • Stress, disease, and illness.


So…can you hold an axolotl? The answer is yes, and if you own an axolotl, you will have to hold and handle it every so often. For example, when you need to move it in order to clean the tank or similar.

However, axolotls do not like being handled and they are very sensitive to being touched, so it should only be done when necessary!

In order to hold an axolotl properly, you need to be very gentle, and make sure that they don’t accidentally wriggle out and fall on the floor as they could get seriously hurt.

You also need to make sure that they don’t stay out of the water for too long or else they will start to suffer some negative consequences.


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!

Recent Posts