Axolotls are unusual salamander species that stay young forever. Now, they don’t really live forever. They just look young for the rest of their lives. 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 re-grow 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 writing, the average cost of axolotls is from $20 to $70, depending on the age. Babies and juveniles are around $20 to $35 and adults are priced at $65 to $70. But aside from the initial cost of axolotls, you also have to consider other costs as well, including:
- Shipping Fee
If you’re going to purchase online, expect a shipping fee ranging from $20 to $30 for a 2-day delivery and about $40 to $50 for 1-day shipping.
For a single adult axolotl, a 10-gallon tank will be enough and it costs anywhere from $15 to $170.
A substrate is critical to an axolotl’s tank as a bad substrate can cause either 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. You can find one at Petco with prices ranging from $5 for 10 lbs to $20 for 20 lbs.
You need to keep the water clean and maintain the right water level with a filter at all times. The most efficient filtration systems can cost as much as $165.
Axolotls need a place where they can hide and you can create this for them by putting caves, live or plastic plants, small hides, rocks, etc. They can cost anywhere from a dollar to $30 each.
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. You can cut this back to every other day when they reach maturity.
Worms are the most nutritional food source for axolotls. You can choose to purchase blackworms, earthworms, bait worms, or red wrigglers. However, red wrigglers need to be pre-killed as they excrete a bitter substance for 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. Aquatic Foods offers 1/4-lb bloodworms for $19 and 10-gram blackworms for $11.
You can also feed axolotls pellets and they are available online and at pet shops. They can cost $4 to $8 for 100 grams.
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 living ones as it is less messy. PetSmart offers a 4-oz pack for $8.
- 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.
Daily medicine and change of clean cold water 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 any activated charcoal filters during these treatments.
Laxative for humans is also applicable for Axolotls’ bloating. You can buy ClearLax at Sam’s club and Walmart for $12.92. Do not buy flavored Laxatives.
What Affects Axolotl Price?
Axolotl eggs, babies, and juveniles are all still delicate and they need special feeding, care, and attention. The reason why they are offered at a lower cost of $20 to $35 is that the responsibilities and risks are all passed to you as a buyer.
On the other hand, adults are priced at $65 to $70 because they are least fragile and they are already “ready-made”. Meaning, there’s not much for you to worry about anymore.
To give you an example, a juvenile GFP wild-type axolotl is offered for $25 at “A Lot’l Axolotls”. The same adult kind which has been cared for, bred and fed until fully grown is listed at ReptilesNCritters for $65.
Another factor that affects the cost is the axolotls’ color or morph and there are three classifications:
Basic Colors – these are the typical axolotls that are available on the market today.
- Wild-Type Axolotls – have a shade of dark brown with yellow, black, and shiny patches. Juveniles of this type cost around $20 to $35.
- White or Leucistic Axolotls – they are white with dark eyes. They can cost from $28 to $35, and if you want one, you can try the Axolotl Factorywhich sells juveniles for $28.
- Golden Albino Axolotls – gold or yellow in color with red or pink eyes. Their cost can range from $25 to $35. Western Axolotl sells juveniles for $35.
- Melanoid Axolotls – they are very dark and their eyes lack the shiny ring around the pupil.
- White Albino Axolotls – they have red or pink eyes and have white skin. If you’re interested in one, Underground Reptilesoffers juveniles for $20.
Uncommon or Special Colors – 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 stores.
- 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. At ReptilesNCritters, their GFP Leucistic is priced at $70.
- 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.
Rare Colors – 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 than the prices indicated here, we suggest you look elsewhere. You wouldn’t want to purchase overpriced basic colored axolotls and pay more than what you should.
In addition, if you want to save 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 enthusiast, 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 for sale. Sometimes, you can find baby axolotls worth $2, juvenile wild-types for $10 to $15 and almost adult Golden Albino 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 which have been collected in the wild and only buy axolotls which 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.