Axolotl is a species that is related to tiger salamanders and is usually known as paedomorphic salamanders.
Unlike many amphibians, this amazing species usually do not undergo the process of metamorphosis, which makes them highly unusual.
“Morph” means “changing.” While morphing, amphibians go into a slow transition from living in water to moving onto land as they mature. However, most axolotls do not go through this process, instead remaining aquatic for their entire lives.
Read this article to have a better understanding of axolotl morphing. We have provided all of the information that you need to know.
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Metamorphosis is a stage of life that all species, both humans and animals, go through in order to transition from being juveniles to adulthood.
While most metamorphosis stages have insignificant effects, some, such as the morphing of the axolotl, are way more dramatic.
The metamorphosis of the axolotl is a very unique process and is a bit more complicated than how most amphibians morph. During this process, the axolotl often loses its tail and fins. It can be a very dangerous process that some do not survive, but the ones that do will live on land for the rest of their lives.
You should learn as much as you can about morphing if you have an axolotl. The next section focuses on how to tell if it is morphing and what you should do.
It is possible to induce the process of metamorphosis in an axolotl. But this is dangerous and often severely decreases the lifespan of the animal. It is not recommended.
However, you may accidentally end up morphing an axolotl. This can occur if you are using bad quality tap water or water that contains iodine. Iodine can stimulate the production of thyroxine, which triggers the metamorphosis process in axolotls.
Hence, we will recommend not using tap water. You can get your water iodine level checked through various different methods, but it’s better to simply use purified water. Change the water every week or so to keep the axolotl healthy.
The metamorphosis process of the axolotl is quite difficult and can lead to a significantly reduced lifespan of the morphed axolotl. Furthermore, it may be unable to reproduce and have difficulties adapting to its new body.
Morphing causes the axolotl to lose its tail and fin. This can cause the axolotl to face difficulties adapting to its new environment on land.
It is often recommended to have the axolotl in a cleaner and healthier environment when you notice it entering metamorphosis. In addition to that, having proper food to take care of your morphed axolotl should be something you should keep in mind.
When morphing, axolotls may change the color of their bodies. However, changing from a lighter color to a darker one may also be a sign of the presence of toxins in their water. Make sure the water is changed at least every couple of weeks to prevent this.
Because they inherit their color combination from their parents, axolotls are born with unique patterns and distinct variations.
Axolotls that have morphed mate with other axolotls of different colors. If you are breeding them with the intention of getting a particular color of offspring, then you will want to control which colors your axolotl mates with.
This will result in the particular set of chromosomes from each parent giving off the desired outcome you want.
In this section below, we will focus on how you can spot and understand that your axolotl is actually going through the process of metamorphosis.
An axolotl usually takes around a month to fully develop into an adult or complete the morphing process.
Therefore, it is important to spot the initial changes so that you can take the steps you need to keep your axolotl safe.
Given below are some important physical changes that you should watch to know if your axolotl is morphing or not.
- The eyes will begin to bulge.
- The tail fin of the axolotl will start to recede until it eventually disappears.
- The dorsal fin will gradually shrink until it completely disappears.
- The legs begin to get thicker.
- Eyelids will form and bulge out slowly.
- The color of the body changes.
- Toes become thicker and more separated.
- The feet lose their webbing.
- Swimming is extremely difficult due to a lack of fins and webbed feet.
- The axolotl may no longer want to be in the water.
If your pet axolotl is going through the process of morphing or is likely to begin, you should keep a close eye on it.
The metamorphosis process can be life-threatening if it isn’t handled correctly. You can follow this step-by-step procedure to take care of your axolotl when it is morphing.
We have tried to outline the important details below, all the way from the beginning to after the morphing process itself. You can also read about giving care to fishes that will help you learn even more about aquatic life.
Among the behavioral patterns, the most important is when you notice your axolotl not staying underwater because of the receding fins and foot webbing.
This causes the axolotl to rise upwards to the surface as it is unable to swim anymore. However, this behavior is only seen after it has gone through several stages and is most likely to occur at the end of the process.
During morphing, you should focus on the environment that your axolotl is in. This is a crucial and very dangerous phase.
In its last stages, the axolotl may gasp for air or try to breathe by snorting. If you notice this, you should:
- Make sure that the water is shallow and that your axolotl is able to breathe.
- Keep a slope such as a rock to support it when it is trying to climb out of the water.
- Open the tank cover to make it as breathable as possible for the axolotl.
If your axolotl is done with its last stages of morphing, you should remind yourself that it is no longer an aquatic animal.
Rather, it is now a salamander and has to be on land rather than on the water. Hence, we recommend you create a dry, land-like environment for your array.
After the morphing process of the axolotl is done, you can actually remove the water from the tank or just keep it a little bit. This is to ensure that your axolotl is still in a familiar environment.
You can use other mediums such as paper towels to provide some moisture. Your axolotl may require water in order to stay hydrated by absorbing it via their skin, just like other salamanders. Hence, you should provide a small amount inside the tank. However, you should not use any tap water as it may contain chlorine and can be harmful to the axolotl.
In addition to that, the temperature should be between 65°F and 72°F (18°C–22°C). Keep the temperature within this range at all times.
Right after the rigorous process of morphing, your pet axolotl will require nutritious food. However, simply continuing its normal diet is not sufficient.
Rather, you can feed your axolotl the following types of food items to ensure it is healthy.
- Small-sized crickets
- No shelled mealworms
Make sure the worms are not big and do not contain any hard shells that can be difficult to consume.
Overall, we have tried to outline and portray all the necessary aspects and, in general, everything you need to know about axolotl morphing.
From what morphing is to how to tell if an axolotl is morphing, there are several things to keep in mind. We hope we were able to answer all the questions you had.
You may also want to learn more about other amphibians that are similar to the axolotl and how they behave.
Yes, you can force an axolotl to morph, but we highly recommend not doing this. It reduces the lifespan of the axolotl, resulting in possible death.
The lifespan of any morphed axolotl is rather short as the difficult process of morphing can make significant changes to the axolotl’s eating habits in general.
It may be bad for the axolotl as it will have a shorter life span after morphing and may not be able to reproduce. Changes to its environment, such as living on land instead of water, may be difficult for it.
Just like other amphibians, axolotls usually morph because of the overriding rush of hormonal changes caused by too much iodine, which stimulates the thyroid gland and produces thyroxine, which is the main chemical behind the morphing process.
Naturally, axolotls aren’t supposed to morph. Trying to make them morph is often regarded as cruelty, as the process is harmful to them in the long run.