What Do Axolotls Like To Play With?

Axolotls are a species of salamander from Mexico. Unlike most salamanders, axolotls do not go through a metamorphosis from larval to adult form. As a result, they retain their juvenile features into adulthood, including their characteristic external gills.

This biological oddity predisposes them to aquatic life. So, unlike other salamanders, axolotls spend their entire lives in water instead. As a result, this can make it hard to play with or even physically bond with a pet axolotl. With these pets, the fun comes from watching them sleep, swim, eat and, occasionally, play in their tank.

So, many axolotl owners wonder what axolotls like to play with. Here’s what I can tell you as an axolotl owner with a few years of experience under my belt.

Axolotls don’t really play with anything. They don’t seem to need toys or a companion to play with. Instead, axolotls are pretty calm, relaxed, and solitary creatures. They don’t seem to need any form of external entertainment to be happy. Instead, they spend most of their time chilling out at the bottom of their tank, camouflaged in the plants or hidden away in their hides.

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Can You Play With Your Axolotl?

As you can see below, you can indeed play with your axolotl. But, not in the same way you’d play with a cat or dog for example.

Axolotls Don’t Like To be Handled

First of all, you should know that axolotls don’t like to be touched, petted down, held, or taken out of their tank. They are fragile creatures who dislike being handled excessively.

That’s not to say that they can’t ever be touched, but there are a few things to keep in mind. So if you absolutely want to play and interact with your axie, you’re going to have to take a very hands-off approach!

Precautions Before Playing With Axolotls

If your axolotl is a newcomer, it’s still getting used to you and its tank. There are a couple of things you can do so it starts getting used to you. But beforehand, make sure to wash your hands with mild soap. Then rinse them thoroughly so there’s no soap residue left on them.

Washing your hands means you won’t introduce harmful bacteria, parasites, or chemicals into the tank. Rinsing is equally as important because soap residues from washing can also make an axolotl very ill.

Place Your Hand In The Water

Place your hand in the water and wait for the axolotl to reach out and make contact. Instead of being pushy, extend your hand and let them contact it first.

Hopefully, you’ll gain enough trust that the axolotl will let you stroke it. Start by very gently touching it on the belly or tail. Touching axolotls in such places is generally safe but don’t go overboard.

In exceptional cases, the axolotl may even lay on your hand, signaling that they are comfortable around you and your hand.

Proceed With Caution

Always remember to approach with caution. Being extremely aggressive right away will almost probably make your axolotl scared of you, which will take time to overcome.

Avoid frightening and stressing your axolotl by making abrupt and swift movements. Instead, you should move slowly and carefully to avoid startling it or injuring it.

Your axolotl may attempt to scamper and conceal as quickly as possible. Don’t try to chase it around the tank or grab it against its will.

Also, only stroke it for a few seconds at a time. Because axolotls have a protective layer on their skin called a slime coat, which you don’t want to compromise. They are vulnerable to diseases and other skin disorders if touched for long periods of time.

Make Feeding Time Entertaining

Most axolotls owners will tell you that feeding time is when they have the most fun with their axie.

Indeed, after a while, your axolotl will begin to recognize the tell-tale signs of dinner time. They’ll know that when a certain sequence of things happens, such as your approaching the tank or removing the lid, then dinner time is likely on its way!

Feeding time is also when axolotls are the most active, excited, and entertaining. You can make this time even more fun by hand-feeding your axolotl with a forceps.

By dangling their food (predominantly worms) in front of their mouths, or moving it around to different areas of the tank, you can get your axolotl to snap at it, bite it or follow it around.

Do Axolotls Like To Play?

Axolotls don’t really like to play. Or, at least not the way we like to think of play (playing with toys, or playing games with our friends).

Axolotls probably have a different conception of entertainment. However, there are a few things that axolotls do that might be considered a form of play.

  • Snapping at their food, or tossing it around.
  • Digging into the substrate at the bottom of their tank.
  • Zooming (swimming frantically around their tank in short “sprints”).
  • Swimming in and out of their hide, or plants.
  • Coming up to the glass to see you when you’re close.
  • Following your finger along the glass.
  • Rising to the surface to gulp air and blow bubbles*.
  • Floating around in certain areas*.
  • Chasing the other creatures they might be sharing their tank with*.

It’s worth noting that some of these behaviors may also be a sign of distress (the ones marked with a * in particular).

So if your axolotl looks off or is doing these things more than usual, you may need to seek veterinarian advice.

How Do You Keep an Axolotl Entertained?

The great thing about owning a pet axolotl is that you’re under no pressure to keep them entertained. Axolotls are very easy-going animals, and as we saw above, require very little in way of entertainment.

So, to keep your axolotl happy you only need to focus on providing the essentials. You don’t need to buy axolotl toys or fancy tank decorations. You don’t need to add another axolotl or tank mates to its tank.

I’ve put together these two helpful guides to help you A) set up your axolotl tank properly and B) identify if your axolotl is happy. Make sure to check them out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Axolotls Need Toys?

Axolotls don’t need toys, nor do they tend to play with toys. If you introduce a toy into your axolotl tank, the odds are that your axolotl won’t even notice it. If it does, it likely won’t play or do anything with it.

Do Axolotls Need A Friend To Play With?

Axolotls don’t need a friend to play with. They are perfectly content in their own company. They don’t need the company of another axolotl, tank mates, or the constant interaction of their owner.

Do Axolotls Like To Play With Their Owner?

Axolotls don’t really play with their owner. However, with time it might let you pet it down very gently, for a short period of time. Also, you might be able to have fun with it when you are feeding it.

Do Axolotls Get Bored?

Axolotls don’t get bored. They have very simple needs. As long as the quality of their water is optimal, their lighting isn’t too bright, they are fed enough and often enough and they aren’t disturbed by unwanted tank mates, they will be happy.


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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