Do Axolotls Sleep At Night? [Owner’s Guide]

Axolotls are cute, smiley salamanders that happen to make great exotic pets. Of course, how active a pet is and what time of the day they are most active can be deciding factors when it comes to choosing a companion that is suited to your lifestyle and preferences.

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding pet axolotls is “Do axolotls sleep at night?” And, since you are here, there’s a good chance that you are looking for information about the sleeping patterns of axolotls.

In this short and simple guide, we explain when axolotls sleep, how long axolotls sleep, and how to tell when an axolotl is sleeping. So, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the sleeping habits of axolotls.

Table of Contents

Do Axolotls Sleep At Night Featured Image

What Is An Axolotl?

To understand the sleeping patterns of axolotls, it is first important to know what axolotls are exactly; where they come from; as well as some of their unique characteristics.

Axolotls (scientific name Ambystoma mexicanum, common name Mexican walking fish) are amphibians, more specifically salamanders, that are native to Mexico. The natural habitat of axolotls is lakes and canals, most notably those located in Mexico City, where axolotls were first discovered.

In addition to their famously unique appearance, axolotls also have unique characteristics. Primary among them is the fact that, unlike other amphibians, axolotls are paedomorphic. This means that axolotls keep their juvenile features even as adults, without going through a metamorphosis.

On top of this, axolotls do not have eyelids. This makes it hard to tell if an axolotl is sleeping, as well as how long they sleep.

Do Axolotls Sleep At Night?

Axolotls generally do not sleep at night.

Are Axolotls Nocturnal?

Axolotls are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and are most active at night.

Do Axolotls Have Eyelids?

Like most amphibians, axolotls do not have eyelids. This is another reason that they have sensitive eyes.

Do Axolotls Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Axolotls can’t close their eyes, to begin with. Due to this, axolotls sleep with their eyes open, during daylight hours and are well-known for being more active at night.

Why Do Axolotls Sleep During The Day?

Scientists believe that axolotls sleep during the day as a natural instinct for avoiding predators. Wild axolotls are preyed upon by large birds and certain species of fish, leading them to hide during the day when these species are most active.

Are Axolotls Crepuscular?

Crepuscular comes from the Latin word “Crepusculum”, which means twilight. Along with being nocturnal creatures, axolotls are also crepuscular, meaning that they are very active at dawn and dusk (twilight hours). So, you can expect any axolotl to be most active at sunrise, sunset, and during the night, before hiding away to sleep for most of the day.

How Long Do Axolotls Sleep For?

Axolotls will sleep most of the day, taking frequent naps of varying duration (from 10-30 minutes up to several hours) in dark hiding places when it is quiet and where they feel safe.

As for how long axolotls sleep in general, there is no definite answer. This is quite simply because it is not always easy to tell when an axolotl is sleeping, due to their eyes always being open.

Normal sleeping behavior of axolotls, however, involves general inactivity during daylight hours. If you do not see your axolotl much during the day, there is a good chance it is spending most of this time napping.

How To Tell If Axolotl Is Sleeping?

As you now know, axolotls do not have eyelids, which makes it hard to tell whether an axolotl is sleeping or not.

Despite this, there are a few visual indicators that can help you to discern a sleeping axolotl from one that is simply resting in a still position. The few points below will help you answer the question: “How do I know if my axolotl is sleeping?”


The first and most obvious sign that an axolotl is sleeping is that it will be inactive. However, axolotls tend to be inactive even when they are awake, so it’s also important to look at other indicators to help determine if your axolotl is asleep.

Slow Gill Movement

Sleeping axolotls will typically exhibit slow gill movement.

Paler Skin Colour

Paler skin color than usual is also a subtle indicator that an axolotl is asleep. Indeed, the axolotl’s metabolism will slow and blood flow throughout the axolotl’s body will be reduced when they sleep.

Time Of Day

Time of day is another big indicator of whether an axolotl is sleeping or not. As nocturnal animals that are sensitive to light, axolotls will spend most of the daytime hiding in dark spots, taking frequent naps, and generally being inactive.

Do Axolotls Float When Asleep?

Whilst it’s not impossible for axolotls to float while they are asleep, it’s pretty uncommon. Generally, axolotls tend to rest at the bottom of their habitat when they are sleeping.

Where Do Axolotls Sleep?

As touched upon above, axolotls have naturally evolved in lakes and canals. Moreover, they are predominantly bottom dwellers where they thrive in dark, murky environments.

Living at the bottom of these habitats enables them to feed off the different food sources which sink to the bottom (such as insects, worms etc) and also enables them to take advantage of the shade and camouflage offered by rocky features and aquatic plants growing at the bottom.

Therefore, axolotls will instinctively seek out quiet, dim or dark hiding places to sleep – be it in their natural habitat or in their axolotl tank.

Axolotls will often be found sleeping at the base of logs, nested in between rocks or hidden beneath the leaves of aquatic plants.

How To Make Sure Your Axolotl Is Sleeping Well?

As is the case with most animals, sleep plays a very important role in maintaining good health and lengthening lifespan. Therefore, it’s very important that your axolotl gets the sleep it needs.

To ensure your axolotl is sleeping well, there are a few simple things that you can do.

Water Parameters

Perhaps the single most important factor when keeping a pet axolotl is to ensure that all its water parameters are optimal (temperature; pH; ammonia nitrate, chlorine & chloramine levels; heavy metal levels…).

If water quality is poor, the general health of your axolotl will be compromised, including its sleeping habits.

Tank Positioning

Always seek to position your axolotl’s tank in a quiet area, both in terms of sound but also away from the bulk of human activity that goes on in your household.

Indeed, remember that vibrations such as footsteps or opening and closing doors can travel through water and create disturbances for your pet axolotl.

Tank Lighting

As discussed above, axolotls thrive in dimly, shaded environments. Axolotls don’t do well under strong artificial lighting or in direct sunlight.

Bright lights or increased water temperatures caused by strong lights or sunlight will likely stress your axolotl out.

Tank Layout & Decorations

Axolotls like to hide or at least take advantage of the camouflage available in their habitats to remain as discreet as possible when they dose off.

With that in mind, we recommend that you layout your tank in such a way to give your pet axolotl a couple of options when it comes to places to sleep.

Cleverly positioned items such as rocks, logs, leafy aquatic plants or indeed certain tank decorations can help you build the perfect artificial habitat for your companion.

Human Interaction

It goes without saying that it’s best not to disturb your pet axolotl during its sleeping hours – which are mainly during the daytime as we have seen.

Therefore, it’s advisable not to knock on the glass of your tank, call, poke or pick up your axolotl during the day.

Some owners also prefer to limit feeding to twilight or nighttime hours, in order to avoid further disturbances.

Do Axolotls Sleeping Habits Make Them Good Pets?

With the sleeping habits of axolotls in mind, do axolotls make good pets?

If you are nocturnal like axolotls, this is a good incentive to have an axolotl as a pet. Axolotls are most active at night, which is the time when you will get to see your axolotl the most and enjoy its company.

Despite this, it’s important to remember that axolotls should not be handled due to their delicate bodies and permeable skin.

Axolotls do not need companions and live on a simple diet that includes most commercial pellets (trout/salmon), bloodworms, earthworms, waxworms, and tubifex worms. As for axolotl tanks, these are relatively easy to set up and maintain.

In general, axolotls are known for being low-maintenance pets – perfect if you just want a friendly companion to watch at nighttime.


Axolotls generally do not sleep at night. Axolotls are nocturnal, being most active at nighttime – particularly the hours of twilight (dusk and dawn).

As axolotls are sensitive to light, they will spend most of the day hiding away and taking frequent naps.

To ensure your axolotl is sleeping well, you must focus on providing a habitat that is conducive to good sleeping behaviors – focusing on water parameters, tank location, tank lighting, tank layout, and decorations and avoiding human interaction when your axolotl is sleepy.

If you’re a nocturnal person and enjoy staying awake late at night, then an axolotl could be the perfect pet for you.


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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