Axolotl Care


Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) are salamanders endemic to the Lake complex of Xochimilco outside of Mexico City. They are most recognizable by their retained gills and tad-pole like body as this species does not undergo natural metamorphosis like other salamanders. In captivity, they typically live between 10-15 years old. On average their size ranges from 9-10 inches long and females are larger than males. Sexual maturity occurs at 10 months for males and 12-18 months for females. To determine gender you have to look at them from the side. Males have a cloacal bulge (bulge behind their back legs) and females do not. Males will also have black nails, but this attribute may not be as reliable in some color morphs. There are a variety of color morphs in the pet trade. Commonly you will see the wild type (mottled black/ brown), albino, and leucistic. They are very common in the pet trade and in research laboratories and have become critically endangered in the wild due to pollution and introduction of invasive species. In their natural environment, they are bottom dwellers so keep that in mind when designing their aquarium.

Ultraviolet Lighting for Reptiles

Ultraviolent or UV lighting is a type of light radiation outside of the visible light spectrum found at higher energies than violet light and it is found in 3 forms: A, B, and C.  UVA is used by reptiles to regulate their daily biological cycles and rhythms. UVC is damaging radiation that leads to skin damage and cancers. UVB is the most important light for reptiles as it is necessary for many reptiles to properly absorb calcium from their diet in order to utilize it for hardening their bones and other metabolic processes throughout their bodies. 

Correcting Water Quality Problems

Problems with the Nitrogen Cycle

Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates measure the biological filter in a system.  Elevations in any of these parameters with normal pH and alkalinity indicates a problems with biological filtration (see related article: The Importance of Water Quality Testing on this website).  Mild elevations in all parameters are generally easy to fix, but there are some special cases described below that are far more concerning.

Syringes - How Much Medication Is Needed?

Pets may be sent home with liquid medications.  An oral liquid medication must be given by mouth to be effective.  An injectable liquid medication must be given by injection beneath the skin to be useful.  Some injectable medications require that the medication is inserted into the muscle to be most effective.  It is important that you understand how to read the syringes that are sent home so your pet gets the proper amount of medication at each dose.