Do Axolotls Recognize Their Owners? Their Owners Know They Do…

Axolotls, also known as the Mexican walking fish, have become hugely popular as of late. I know the creature is adorable and has been named toothless a lot because they look like toothless from ‘how to train your dragon’. But why else would anyone want an axolotl. One question I wondered was, do axolotls recognize their owners?

Axolotls recognize their owners because they love to eat, and their owner is the one that feeds them. Axolotls will become excited when their owners’ approach and will sit on their hind legs, tap against the glass, follow their owners back and forth along the glass, follow their owners’ hand in the water and can even be taught to eat from their owners’ hand.

To explain how an axolotl recognizes you, we must dive into their personality. Please, let me explain and you will be dying to bring one of these cute critters home.

Axolotl Personality – How Do They Recognize You

The axolotl is a very interesting and unique pet. They are so unusual that they can regenerate parts of their body that are lost! Crazy right!

Axolotls may all look basically the same shape, but they do have different colors depending on which breed you get.

Axolotls personality are also different as well. You never know what type of personality you are going to get in your axolotl unless maybe the breeder has interacted with them quite a bit before you bring them home.

Once you bring your axolotl home, its personality in relation to how much it recognizes and interacts with you will depend on how much you recognize and interact with your axolotl.

If you quickly toss some food in the tank at feeding time and hurry away, never paying any attention to your axolotl, your axolotl will be panicky and shy whenever you approach the tank.

If you feed your axolotl and spend some time at the tank, you can slowly put your fingers down into the tank and let your axolotl nip at your fingers. Over time, your axolotl will recognize and feel comfortable around you.

You will be able to feed them by hand. They will follow your fingers around the tank. They will become excited when ever you approach the tank.

If you continually interact with your axolotl, they can even learn to do certain tricks like swimming to the top of the tank, eating out of your hand or even swimming in a pattern before you feed them. Axolotls can become very playful if you keep interacting with them.

Owners have reported that after all of this interaction, their axolotl will actually tap on the aquarium glass when they are near to get your attention. Owners have even mentioned that it seems like their axolotl poses for photos. They will even stand on their hind legs!

Regardless of how much you interact with your axolotl, some axolotls will be less social with you than others, while some axolotls will be more excited and interactive than others. Remember, all axolotls are different. They do actually have a personality, so they are all going to be different.

Axolotl owners have even gone as far as to say their axolotl likes to be rubbed lightly on the head. Some axolotls nipped their owner’s fingers at first until they began to recognize them. After they recognize their owner they quit nipping at their fingers.

I know this sounds far-fetched, but the axolotl will nip at a stranger’s fingers if someone else puts their fingers in the water, so how can this not be recognition by the axolotl.

Another owner said that their axolotl even lets them give their axolotl gentle head rubs. However, you have to be very careful if you touch your axolotl because you really shouldn’t touch them much if at all but more in that in a bit.

Axolotl Hides and Decorations

Something else you can do to keep you axolotl interactive is to put different decorations or toys in their tank every week or month. Axolotls can be very curious so it can be stimulating for them to interact with different stuff in their tank rather than the same thing all the time.

If you change up their tank decorations, the axolotl will eventually recognize you as a source of food and stimulation. They are very curious and will love you for the attention and interaction. They will spend much of their time playing and exploring any new decorations that you put in their tank.

Axolotls are very intelligent to the point that you can actually teach them to do some of these things like swimming a certain pattern or floating to the top of their tank as stated above.

Owners have reported their axolotl as being very silly in the way they interact with their owner, other axolotls and the decorations or toys that you put in the tank.

How To teach Your Axolotl to Hand Feed

This is the best way to get your axolotl to recognize you as the owner and also the most well-known way to interact with your axolotl.

As stated above, if you just drop the axolotl feed in the tank and hurry away, then your axolotl may recognize you, but they probably won’t interact with you. Most axolotl owners like to teach their axolotl to eat out of their hand which is a great way to interact with them and also proof that an axolotl does recognize their owner.

It is also one of the most fun ways to interact with your axolotl. It is also the best way to monitor your axolotl feeding and make sure they are eating all of the food they are given since they are such messy creatures when it comes to their poop.

You don’t need extra uneaten food floating around in their tank in addition to their massive amounts of poop that they can produce.

You will probably get bitten, especially at first but remember, it doesn’t hurt, and they should bite you less the more they get to know you. If it does bother you too much, they do make feeding tools you can use to feed your axolotl.

Just grab some of the axolotl food with your fingers and hold it under the water. Your axolotl may try to grab it right away. If they don’t then just wriggle the food back and forth to try to get them to grab it. You are trying to wait for the axolotl to suck in or inhale water to take the food.

When you see the axolotl inhale the water, let the food go so they can take it in. An axolotl is not shy about food so they will generally take it the first time but if they don’t then just keep trying until they become interested in the food.

If you continually just drop the food in the water then they will get used to eating the food on their own. You want them to think that they need to get it out of your fingers and then they will be used to feeding this way instead.

Even if you have to take the food out of the water and try it again later just keep trying. Even if you have to wait a day or two, the axolotl will eventually take the food from your hand when it is hungry enough.

Once the axolotl does take the food from your fingers just keep feeding them this way every day and you are home free! Your axolotl will even recognize and interact with you more whenever you are near the tank because they will want food!

Just make sure you wash your hands before and after you feed your axolotl to keep their water from getting infected with any foreign substance.

Why Can’t You Touch an Axolotl?

You can touch an axolotl like giving it very soft head rubs as described above but it is not a good idea to do it much longer than a few seconds. Their bodies are very sensitive and are not designed to support their body weight since the are usually suspended in water.

It is not recommended to actually hold your axolotl since the risk is so great. You may have to hold them to transport them to another tank but that is the only reason you should ever actually hold them.

Do Axolotls Have Feelings?

There hasn’t been enough time or studies done to have a lot of information about axolotls and how they interact with humans. The general scientific minded consensus is that axolotls don’t have feelings like emotions.

At least not emotions like we do. The scientific minded opinion is that they recognize movement and associate it with food. Maybe they recognize our body shape, or the shape of our hair.

There really isn’t a definite answer yet. Whether or not they have feelings it would still be cool to see an axolotl excited to see you. To see an axolotl, look like its sitting on its hind legs when you walk into the room.

It would be awesome to see your axolotl chasing your fingers around and letting you gently give it little head rubs. How cute! Who wouldn’t want this in a pet!

Do Axolotls Bite You?

Axolotls will bite you, but it doesn’t hurt. It is more like a tickle. Their teeth are not big enough to break the skin. It is actually funny for most axolotl owners.

They are predatory animals so when you first bring them home they may latch on to your finger a lot thinking it is food. All you have to do is simply wait for them to spit your finger back out when they realize they cannot eat it.

They will bite other axolotls if they come in their territory, or other critters that are in the aquarium, but axolotls are not social critters so very rarely will someone have another critter with an axolotl.

As stated above, axolotls will bite their owner’s fingers at first until they begin to recognize them. After a while axolotls will quit biting their owners but will continue to bite a stranger’s fingers if they see them in their tank.

These are just more clues that axolotls do recognize their owners and interact with them on a regular basis.

How Do I Know If My Axolotl Is Happy?

This can be a bit hard because it actually looks like your axolotl is smiling all of the time because of the way that their head and mouth is shaped. It actually looks like they have perma grin. But they could actually be dead, and it will still look like they are smiling.

One of the easiest ways to tell if your axolotl is happy is if they are eating. If they are consistently eating a good amount of food in five minutes then this is at least a sign that they are not unhappy. If they aren’t eating, it could be a sign that they are stressed about something or they are sick.

If their tail is always curled or stuck straight up, it could also be a sign that they are sick, stressed, or unhappy about something like poor water quality or maybe kiddos rough housing around their tank.

Axolotls like to walk along the bottom of their tank most of the time so if they are floating, it could also be a sign that they are unhappy because they are probably sick. Sometimes an axolotl will float but if it seems like they are floating for most of the day, then they might need to be quarantined to see if something is wrong.

You can blow on them to see if they rush back down to the bottom of their tank.


Hopefully, I have let the evidence speak for itself and proven that axolotls do recognize and interact with their owners.

Maybe it is just because they want to be fed but I think it goes a little deeper than that. Maybe they know you are the one feeding them and taking care of them, so they want to show their appreciation.

Whatever the case, these critters are surprisingly entertaining as long as you spend some time with them so get one and enjoy!

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