Axolotls are unusual salamander species with a round head, feather-like gills, and a permanently smiling face. These interesting species possess the magic of staying young forever. They have the condition called “neoteny,” meaning they keep their larval features, such as tadpole-like fins and feathery gills, throughout adulthood.
Axolotls can also regenerate tissues when wounded, and they can even regrow not only missing limbs but also their lungs, kidney, and heart! They’re such interesting creatures that they’re one of the most scientifically studied salamanders in the world.
Upfront Cost of Axolotls
As of this writing, the average cost of axolotls ranges from $30 to $250, depending on their age. Babies and juveniles are $30 or more, and adults are priced starting at $100. Prices will rise if you are looking for one-of-a-kind or axolotls with rare pigmentations.
Axolotl babies, and juveniles are all still delicate, and they need special feeding, care, and attention. The reason they are offered at a lower cost of $30 is that the responsibilities and risks are all passed on to you as a buyer.
On the other hand, adults are priced starting at $100 because they are the least fragile and they are already “ready-made”. Meaning, there’s not much for you to worry about anymore.
Axolotls’ Price Differences Based on Color/Morph
The colour or morph of the axolotls is a major variable that affects price. Based on their colours or morphs, axolotls can be divided into three groups: common (basic), uncommon (special), and rare. The majority of axolotl species are found naturally, but some have been genetically altered in laboratory settings.
Axolotls come in the following common colours: Wild-type, Leucistic, White Albino, Golden Albino, and Melanoid.
Basic Colors: These are the typical axolotls that are available on the market today.
- Wild-Type Axolotls – they are the most common axolotl morph and have the typical colour of wild axolotls, hence the name ‘wild-type’. They have a shade of dark brown with yellow, black, and shiny patches. Juveniles of this type cost starts at around $25.
- White or Leucistic Axolotls – also called as Lucy, they have a pale white colour and bright pink or red gills. They are much alike Albino variants but have dark-coloured eyes and sometimes, spots on their heads and bodies. If you want one, you can try the UnderGround Reptiles which sells Leucistic juveniles (2-4 inches) for $40.
- Golden Albino Axolotls – gold or yellow in color (due to high amounts of iridophores (gold sparkles)) with red or pink eyes. BuyAnAxolotl.com sells a 4 month old for $75.
- Melanoid Axolotls – they are very dark and their eyes lack the shiny ring around the pupil. They are often mistaken as a wild-type colour, but they have an elegant black pigmentation than the wild-type, giving their bodies a solid dark brown or black colour. AxolotlPlanet has listed Melanoids for a price of $150-$250.
- White Albino Axolotls – they have red or pink eyes and have white skin. If you’re interested in one, Underground Reptiles offers juveniles for $40.
Uncommon or Special Colors – The uncommon colors of axolotls are Copper and GFP (green fluorescent protein) axolotls. While GFP axolotls are becoming easier to buy, coppers are not and they’re still hard to find. They are not readily available at your local pet store.
- GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) Axolotls – these kinds of axolotls contain a GFP which enables them to glow under UV light, black light, and blue light. Even if they are slowly becoming common, their price remains high. For example, at AxolotlPlanet, a leucistic axolotl is available for $120, while its GFP version starts at $140.
- Copper Axolotls – they have a light brown, pinkish color and dark brown spots. They don’t have any black pigments and they have red-tinted eyes. You can get a copper axolotl for around $100.
Rare Colors: The rare morphs of axolotls are Piebald, Chimera, Mosaic, Lavender, Firefly, and Enigma. Getting your hands on any of these axolotl morphs is close to impossible, as they are not offered at any pet store or online store. But if you really want rare axolotls, professional breeders are your best bet, and you can try searching for them on the internet. Just expect a very high price tag as well.
- Chimera Axolotls – these kinds of axolotls have two different colors for each side which splits down in the middle of their bodies and faces. They are very rare that there’s only a 0.00001% chance that an axolotl can be a chimera.
- Piebald Axolotls – they have coloring that goes all the way down their body and sides, and they are darker with thicker black spots than leucistic axolotls.
- Silver Dalmatian or Lavender Axolotls – they have a “purple” hue with darker spots along the body similar to a Dalmatian dog. The pricing of lavender axolotls babies can be expected from $100 and for adults from $150.
- Enigma Axolotls – these can only be found in the United States. They are green with shiny iridophores or what seem to be shiny flakes.
- Mosaic Axolotls – they are similar to Chimeras, only their color is not evenly split down the middle. Most Mosaics are a combination of Albino and Melanoid. Juveniles are on sale at Ivy’s Axolotls, priced from $130.
- Firefly Axolotls – produced by Lloyd Strohl II for research, Firefly axolotls have either dark body with lighter tales or lighter bodies with darker tales. These are not made for pet enthusiasts and they may never be produced again.
The prices listed above may vary depending on the breeder and the size of the axolotls, and you may find some axolotls with health issues for less cost.
Other Cost Factors
But aside from the initial cost of axolotls, you also have to consider other costs, including:
- Shipping Fee
Since axolotls aren’t easy to find in pet stores, you might have to buy one online, which will cost you an extra shipping fee that will likely start at $20.
Despite being amphibians, axelotls prefer to live underwater. As a result, you ought to create an aquarium ecosystem for them. Adult axolotls should be kept in a 20-gallon tank, while juveniles should be kept in a 10-gallon tank. If you keep two axolotls in the same aquarium, you need double the space and create separate enclosures for them if one of them is smaller than the other because the bigger one might eat the smaller one. The tank is priced starting at $20 for 10 gallons and $45 for 20 gallons.
A substrate is critical to an axolotl’s tank, as a bad substrate (sharp-edged or small) can cause injury or even death. You can go bare and put nothing at the bottom but it can sometimes cause stress to an axolotl as they can’t grip on the smooth surface. Or, you can go with sand.
Sand is the best substrate for axolotls, as they can dig and play freely at the bottom of their tanks, and it won’t be a concern if ingested. 10 pounds of aquarium sand can be bought for $10.
Axolotls discharge a lot of waste, such as ammonia, and they are quite sensitive to bad water conditions. Remember to get a slow-moving filter to prevent your Axolotl’s gills from being trapped inside the filter. The most effective filtration systems can cost up to $165; however, filters as cheap as $20 are also available.
Axolotls require a private space to hide because they are not social creatures. By including caves, live or plastic plants, little hides, pebbles, etc. in the aquarium, which can be obtained from pet stores, you can provide them with privacy. They can be purchased for anywhere from $1 to $30 each.
- Aquarium Chiller
Axolotls are adversely affected by water temperatures exceeding 22 degrees. To lower the water’s temperature, you can use ice water bottles, a fan that blows across the water’s surface, and an aquarium chiller. A chiller for aquariums starts at about $90.
What are Included
Most online sellers offer live arrival guarantees for their animals. Thus, in the event that your axolotl dies during transit, you will be given two options: to get a refund or have another one sent to you for free. However, shipping fees are non-refundable and if you choose to have a replacement, you will still be required to pay for shipping.
Recurring Costs of Owning an Axolotl
Axolotls are carnivores, and they will eat live or dead food. Until axolotls reach maturity, they should be fed every day. Adult axolotls need to be fed only two or three times a week.
Worms are the most nutritious food source for axolotls. You can choose to purchase blackworms, earthworms, bait worms, or red wrigglers. Red wrigglers, on the other hand, need to be killed ahead of time because they use a bitter substance as a defense.
Bloodworms are good too, but they’re not actually worms. They are midge larvae, and they are ideal for axolotls as they are nutritious and well-balanced. Ivy’s Axolotls sells 1/8 pound blackworms for $22, while Petco sells bloodworms for $9.
You can also feed axolotls pellets, which are available online and at pet shops for as low as $9 for 3.25 oz.
Also, consider giving an axolotl something different at least once a week, like brine shrimp. It is recommended that you purchase cubed frozen brine shrimp instead of live ones, as it is less messy. PetSmart offers a 3.5-ounce pack for $7.
- Medical Cost
A trip to the vet costs $40 to $60 for a routine checkup, while it can cost $100 or more for emergency care.
An Axolotl is prone to bloating caused by the way it is being fed. It eats by sucking food comparable to a vacuum cleaner. Bloat is a medical condition in which the stomach becomes overstretched by excessive gas content.
A change of clean, cold water and daily medication are required. You can use tap water, but let the water run so that it gets as cold as possible. Do not use any filters or activated charcoal filters during these treatments.
In case of parasitic infections, you can use an Axie Aid which can cost between $12 and $25.
Laxatives for humans are also applicable for axolotls’ bloating. You can buy ClearLax at Sam’s Club and Walmart for under $10. Do not buy flavored laxatives.
Axolotls can be bought from your local pet stores or from online shops such as Backwater Reptiles, Axolotl Factory, Underground Reptiles, Western Axolotl, and ReptilesNCritters.
If you happen to find sellers offering higher prices than those indicated here, we suggest you look elsewhere. You wouldn’t want to purchase overpriced, basic-colored axolotls and pay more than you should.
In addition, if you want to save money on buying axolotls, you can try finding one at Caudata.org. It is an information portal for everything about newts and salamanders, particularly axolotls. It’s also an online forum where axolotl enthusiasts, experts, and breeders can share tips and also sell their animals.
The rates are significantly lower, depending on the breeder and the purpose of putting their axolotls up for sale. Sometimes, you can find baby axolotls for $2, juvenile wild-types for $10 to $15, and almost-adult Golden Albinos for $45.
Lastly, before going through with a purchase, remember to first check your state’s current laws regarding exotic animal ownership. Generally, axolotls are legal all through the United States except for California, New Jersey, Maine, and Virginia.
Owning axolotls is a rewarding feeling. They’re unusual, beautiful, and simply amazing. But, they’re also listed as critically endangered and their population in the wild is fast dwindling.
Thus, it is recommended that you avoid animals that have been collected in the wild and only buy axolotls that have been born and raised in captivity. Not only will this be beneficial for the axolotl species, but also for you as an owner, because captive-bred animals are usually more docile and free of diseases.