Axolotls are one of the most unique creatures to exist. Their name means “water dog”, with Atl meaning “water” and xolotl meaning “dog”. However, “xolotl” doesn’t just mean any dog; instead, it specifically refers to Xolotl, the canine Aztec deity, who some believed transformed into the axolotl.
Pronounced “ax-oh-lot-ul,” these amphibians are salamanders known for their ability to regrow lost limbs. Of course, this means that the species has been extensively studied, revealing more and more amazing things about them, including how they excrete waste. Below, you’ll learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know about axolotl poop.
Axolotls: The Unusual Limb Regenerators
Axolotls have several unique traits, the chief being their ability to regenerate. Unlike other animals who only regenerate limbs and tails, these amphibians also regenerate spinal cords, skin, jaws, lung tissue, and other complex body parts, such as the heart and even the brain!
These amazing animals retain this ability throughout their lives, even though studies suggest that each body part grows back a maximum of 5 times. After this, scar tissue begins to form. Another fact about these animals is that they are resistant to cancer.
Of course, scientists are working round the clock to understand these animals better and be able to recreate their resistance for humans. With more studies, they hope to be able to reverse-engineer the axolotls’ regeneration abilities for human treatments. Axolotls are also neotenic, meaning they look like babies or juveniles throughout their lives. They never develop teeth or lungs and suction-feed their entire lives.
What Do Axolotls Eat?
Wild axolotls feed on whatever they can find and eat. They aren’t picky and eat dead or live food such as worms, fish, crustaceans, insects, and other marine life. However, captive axolotls are often fed fish pellets, worms, shrimp, and even beef.
They are cannibals, which means that apart from eating other meals, they also eat themselves. During shortages, young axolotls often bite off flesh from their family members- luckily, they grow back.
Axolotls feed by sucking food into their mouths. Often, they also suck in gravel, which they use to grind their food for a smoother consistency.
What Does Axolotl Poop Look Like?
Like all other animals, axolotls poop. If you’re planning on getting one for a pet, you should pay attention to its poop, as it can tell you a lot about your pet.
First, you should know that axolotl poop “explodes” if handled improperly during clean-up. And since their poop contains ammonia, this is a situation you do not want. Their poop has a thin sausage-like skin that contains the poop. It is often colored a dirt black or brown color, measures about an inch, and weighs about 0.04 ounces (1 gram).
Cleaning axolotl waste can be a bit of a bother because it involves monitoring your pet as they only poop about once or a few times a week as adults. If axolotl poop isn’t cleaned up immediately, it dissolves and dirties the tank. Similarly, you should ensure you don’t burst the sausage skin and dirty the tank when cleaning it.
Do Axolotls Eat Their Own Poop?
Normally, axolotls do not eat their own poop. However, if they do, it could be a sign of a parasite infection. Axolotls may also eat poop if they are malnourished. Since their poop contains ammonia, eating it could harm them. This is another reason axolotl poop must be cleaned immediately and why they must be well cared for.
Is Axolotl Poop Toxic To Humans?
Axolotl poop contains ammonia which is corrosive and could be toxic if a person is exposed to it in large quantities. Ammonia also smells terrible, so cleaning up axolotl poop must be done with utmost patience to avoid bursting the poop open. When cleaning axolotl poop, remember to protect your hands with a pair of disposable gloves.
What Does Unhealthy Axolotl Poop Look Like?
Unhealthy axolotl poop differs from healthy poop in a number of ways. If your axolotl has large chunks of flesh along its anal sac, it is a sign that it is unhealthy and needs urgent care. Another sign of unhealthiness is white poop. If your axolotl’s poop is white, it is a sign that it has a parasite.
How Often Do Axolotls Poop?
Usually, an adult axolotl poops about once a week. Anything above this is a sign that you’re probably overfeeding your axolotl. However, if you suspect that your axolotl isn’t pooping at all, it is also cause for worry.
Ensure that you aren’t missing its poop time and allowing it to dissolve. If this isn’t the case, it could be bloated or constipated and should be taken to the veterinarian. It is also possible that your axolotl is eating its own poop.
What Does Baby Axolotl Poop Look Like?
Baby axolotl poop isn’t much different from adults. They poop more frequently since they eat more, but their poop is smaller in size. Monitoring axolotl poop is one way to tell a lot of things about them such as age, health, and even diet.
3 Fast Facts About Axolotls
Here are 3 fast facts about axolotls to help you get to know them.
1. Axolotls Are Only Found in One Place on Earth
Sadly, these unique creatures aren’t native to America. They are found in only one place on Earth: Lake Xochimilco in southern Mexico City. Although most axolotls seen are usually white, this isn’t their usual color. They are black or brown with a hint of green. However, the white ones are leucistic, which is why they are often kept as pets. Axolotls have eye-catching branch-like things on their heads. They aren’t just for show but are their gills.
2. Young Axolotls Often Bite Off Body Parts Of Their Family Members
Axolotls are great pets. They are calm and content to float around their tanks while making gulping motions. They have terrible eyesight and may not recognize their owners’ faces but are smart enough to learn schedules. However, in the wild, these animals are aggressive to each other and often bite off body parts.
3. Axolotls Are a Delicacy in Some Parts of the World
Before the species became endangered, Mexican natives hunted them for food. They were a delicacy served with cornmeal and believed to have medicinal benefits. Some reports claim that they taste like eels, while others say they taste like white fish meat. Some Japanese restaurants still sell deep-fried axolotls today.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Vitaliy Halenov
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- Memphis Zoo, Available here: https://www.memphiszoo.org/herpetarium/?animal=Axolotl
- The Dallas World Aquarium, Available here: https://dwazoo.com/animal/axolotl/