Wow is it an Axolotl or a Salamander?

3 min read

Different types of salamanders became popular as pets before axolotls but since an axolotl looks like a salamander, people are always wondering if an axolotl is a salamander so let me set explain.

An axolotl is a salamander from the salamander family called Ambystomatidae but is completely neotenic ( live completely live underwater) unlike other salamanders. Axolotls are neotenic because they keep their gills, stay in the larval stage, and never metamorphize into a normal axolotl.

Everything you need to know about Axolotl


Hmmm… I know that is a vague answer so let me explain in more detail.

What Is An Axolotl?

Axolotls are sometimes thought to be salamanders or water dogs but they are actually their own species of salamander.


Axolotls are also called amphibians since, although they live their entire lives in the water, they can survive out of the water for small periods of time.

Axolotls get their name from the Mexican God Xolotl – the God of formation and death. This may have something to do with the axolotl’s ability to completely lose limbs and regrow or regenerate them.

Axolotls get their trademark appearance from their flowing mane of gills that look like alien tentacles. These long flowing gills are very unique and are how the axolotl breathe underwater.

Are Salamanders And Axolotls The Same?

As stated above, axolotls are different than what is considered a normal salamander. That is because a salamander eventually loses its gills and metamorphoses into a salamander.

This may be because axolotls originated from the same high-altitude lakes in Mexico and stayed underwater because of the elevation and climate.

Other salamanders that did metamorphize into normal salamanders are more widespread throughout the world.

Can an Axolotl Turn Into A Salamander?

As stated above, an axolotl is like a cousin to the normal salamander, but sometimes an axolotl can metamorphize into a normal salamander and start living on land.

It is not likely though, especially in an aquarium. An axolotl is usually forced to metamorphize due to health problems, usually from bad water quality.

Just for the record, an axolotl is not supposed to metamorphize into a salamander, so if it does happen, the axolotl will not live as long as it should.

Are Axolotls Just Baby Salamanders?

Not technically, but you could say they are since they are the larval, juvenile form of a salamander that never matures into a normal salamander.

Axolotls are in a class by themselves, but you could say they are like your crazy cousin that never wants to grow up.

Is An Axolotl A Salamander Or A Newt?


A newt belongs to the salamander family called pleurodinae, which is actually considered a subfamily. Newts are semiaquatic which means they live in water and on land whereas an axolotl is always underwater and a salamander is usually on land.

Since an axolotl is in a different family of salamanders, it wouldn’t be considered a Newt.


Now that you know an axolotl is a salamander, maybe it is the right pet for you.

They can be fun pets for people who don’t mind not being able to handle or pet them a lot. Their skin is very sensitive so you can very lightly pat them on the belly or the head as long as you don’t touch their gills but try not to stroke them.

Axolotls have a wide range of personalities from being extremely shy to very outgoing and interactive with their owners.

If you do pet them, you should also try not to do it very often, maybe even just once a week or even less.

Owners have reported their axolotl will swim back and forth in their aquarium when the owner is in the room and the axolotl will even try to tap on the glass to get their owner’s attention.

With some axolotls, you can lay your hand in the aquarium and they will lay in your hand while you very gently touch them, but you should rarely touch them.

Some owners have taught their axolotl to swim in a circle for their food.

Some owners claim that their axolotl even poses for pictures if they see a camera.

Axolotls are endangered, but their average lifespan in an aquarium is 10 years! So, go get yourself one today!

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Pet Aquariums

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