Buying an Axolotl is a commitment that should be approached with careful thought and consideration. This is not a temporary pet, when properly cared for, they can live up to 10 years and more.
However, if you definitely want to keep Axolotl and have already studied how to care for everything about these wonderful creatures, when this Axolotl Buying guide will help you.
In this article, I will describe different color types (morphs) of Axolotls that you can find and what you need to do to avoid being scammed while buying one.
What Are the Main Types of Axolotls?
Axolotls come in different color variations which are called morphs. The main morphs are wild, leucistic, white albino, gold albino, and melanoid. These morphs are much more common and easier to find.
Wild types are normally earthy looking colors. They are composed of greens, blacks, and browns. However, if you look closely you can see shiny gold pigments. The gills on this Axolotl morph tend to be purple or gray. Their eyes are usually dark with a golden ring.
Melanoids look like wild types but may appear to be darker. They also lack the shiny pigments.
I own a Leucistic type. The morph has a body that is either white or pink and may have freckles. Their eyes are dark colors like navy or black and their gills are pink. White Albinos tend to look similar to the Leucistic type. The body is white or pink and the morph has pink gills. Unlike the Leucistic type, this morph will have clear or red eyes that make it evident that the Axolotl is an Albino.
I also own a golden albino and this morph is gorgeous. Golden Albino Axolotls will have a golden body. They also tend to have shiny patches throughout their body. Mine has quite a few along the length of his tail. Because this morph is albino, it can only have light color eyes. Their gills tend to be described as a peach or orange color.
What Are the Uncommon and Rare Axolotl Morphs?
GFP Axolotls are a fan-favorite of Axolotl owners due to their uniqueness. This morph is uncommon but it is pretty easy to find because people love to breed GFP Axolotls.
A GFP Axolotl is any Axolotl that has been genetically modified to have the Green Fluorescent Protein Gene. GFP Axolotls can glow green under UV light due to the production of this protein. GFP is almost like a secondary morph.
An Axolotl can’t be ‘just’ a GFP Axolotl. The Axolotl also has to be one of the other morphs. For example, you can have a GFP Leucistic Axolotl. The GFP gene can be inherited and lighter colored Axolotls with the gene will glow brighter.
Copper Morphs are actually considered to be Albino Axolotls due to the red tint in their eyes. They are usually a light brown color and coated with dark brown spots. This morph is usually harder to find than the others.
Chimera Axolotls are Axolotls that are formed when two eggs fuse together. This can create an Axolotl that is one morph on one half of its body and a different morph on the other half. The coloration is split down the middle. It is extremely unlikely that a chimera Axolotl will survive because one side can grow faster than the other. It is impossible to breed this morph intentionally.
Mosaic Morphs are extremely similar to chimera Axolotls because they are a mixture of two morphs but they are not an exact split down the middle. They are created from two cells forming during development and due to this, most mosaics are infertile. The morph is also not something that you can intentionally breed.
Piebald Morphs happen to be leucistics but they have darker pigmentation along the sides of their body and along their heads. Their spots tend to be darker and fuller compared to regular Axolotls with spots. This morph coloring is inheritable.
There is also the Lavender Morph. This morph can be hard to find. Lavender morphs are Axolotls with a purple tint and dark spots.
Firefly Morphs can only be obtained by one breeder who uses the breed for research purposes and then sells them. Lloyd Strohl the 2nd managed to create this new morph by using embryonic graphing. The morph is not achievable by regular breeding. The light-colored Axolotls have a dark tail and the dark colored Axolotls have a light tail.
Make Sure Axolotls Are Legal to Own Where You Live
Axolotls are considered endangered animals. Most states allow the owning and shipping of Axolotls but not all states do. Check your state’s regulations on owning exotic animals before buying an Axolotl.
Most breeders will not ship to you if owning an Axolotl is illegal in your state. If you have trouble finding the information yourself, you may be able to ask a breeder if you are allowed to own Axolotls.
Where Do I Buy an Axolotl?
It is unusual to find Axolotls in pet stores. I have personally never seen an Axolotl sold in stores. I have heard from other Axolotl owners that some stores that sell exotic animals may have them. However, it is more likely that you will buy your Axolotls online or from a breeder.
I personally bought my Axolotls from a breeder who was in an Axolotl care Facebook group that I belonged to. He was very enthusiastic about Axolotls and asked to receive pictures once the Axolotls were entirely grown. I could tell by his enthusiasm that he was genuine and decided to order from him. Not all sellers are trustworthy though so you have to be careful.
How to Avoid Scams While Buying Axolotl
If you decide to buy your Axolotls from an online breeder that you don’t know personally like I did, make sure to watch out for signs that you are being scammed.
Scammers will often ask for payment and never mail you the pets that you bought. I have seen this happen more with sellers trying to sell puppies and adult dogs. However, it is good to be on the safe side. Going through a reputable breeder will save you time and worries.
No matter who you buy from, I would recommend using PayPal as payment. PayPal has excellent customer service and protection if you do fall for a scam. You will be more likely to get your money back.
How to Spot Signs of a Scam While Buying Axolotl
If a seller asks you to send them a check or money order, it is likely that they are attempting to scam you. Also, remember to never give out your card information because the scammer could easily reuse the numbers for other purchases!
Another sign that you are being scammed is if the seller comes up with excuses every time you ask when you will receive the pet. Scammers use a variety of excuses such as a death in their family, personal sickness, and more in order to cause you to lower your guard about their suspicious activity. This can allow them to go for longer without being reported and continue to scam more people.
Not every seller that says that they have a death in their family or claims to be sick is lying. Life does happen. However, if your seller keeps telling you every time that you contact them that they can’t ship Axolotl for whatever reason then the seller is most likely a scammer.
You should then emphasize that you want the animal as soon as possible or you will be requesting a refund. If they claim to have shipped the animal, ask for a tracking number. Do not trust just their word.
What to Expect When Waiting for an Axolotl Shipment
You should expect to be excited! The suspense was killing me when I was waiting on my Axolotls to arrive. I waited two days for the medium-sized box to get to me.
Axolotls are shipped in boxes using the faster shipping options in order to ensure live delivery. When my Axolotls did arrive, they were in a bag that was filled to the brim with water in order to prevent water swishing around during the shipment. This helps the Axolotls experience less stress.
The bag also contained some plants in order to provide oxygen to the animals. There was also some filler in the box to prevent the bag from moving during shipment.
Axolotls pollute their water easily which is another reason that they require a larger tank. Breeders will feed them before the trip but will not provide them food in the bag in order to stop the bag from being overly polluted by excrements.
You should feed your new pet as soon as you get it. It is likely hungry but Axolotls do not die after not being fed for two days. At adult size, they can be fed every day or fed every other day if you feed them the correct proportions.
Introducing Axolotls to Your Tank
Make sure that your tank is ready and has been cycled. The process of introducing your Axolotls to your tank is easy. Allow the bag to float on top of the water for at least 20 minutes. This lets the water in the bag gradually match the temperature in the tank.
You can then release the Axolotls into the tank. If they are not moving much once they reach the tank, that is completely normal. Therefore, do not panic, do not try to pick them up or move them. Your Axolotls are likely stressed from the shipment and need time to calm down and adjust to their new environment.