Axolotls are Mexican salamanders found only in a small region of Mexico near its capital. These wild animals are amphibians that are popular among exotic pet enthusiasts.
Pet owners keep these salamander species, also known as the Mexican walking fish, as home companions. Axolotls are unusual animals preferred to be domesticated as pets because they are quite easy to care for and can thrive in an aquarium without land.
We understand that exotic pet lovers who are new or not quite familiar with axolotls may feel curious about the proper pronunciation of this animal’s name. We want to offer this help: The term “axolotl” can be properly enunciated as “ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl,” with the stress on the “ACK” and “LAH” syllables.
Axolotls are critically endangered in the wild because of pollution and natural habitat loss. However, there are abundant of them available for purchase in the open market for pet-keeping purposes.
We want to give this list of the top 15 morphs exhibiting striking colors to help interested pet keepers looking to adopt this amphibian type, yet are unaware of which morph or hue to choose.
We also used the axolotls’ common names and added some details about their history and genetics. In this manner, our readers can easily understand their natures.
15 Popular Axolotl Morphs for Potential Owners
In captivity, axolotls are widely bred due to their use as amusing and eye-catching home companions. At the time of writing, there are more than 20 different kinds of axolotl morphs from which that pet enthusiasts can select.
We want to inform our readers that breeding has resulted in the development of many diverse color morphs. Some of them are more desirable, attractive, and rarer than others.
We also want to point out that an axolotl variant’s color depends upon the chromatophores, which are pigment cells that consist of the following:
a) Iridophores, or cells comprising crystallized purines that give a shiny iridescence;
b) Melanophores, which includes eumelanin, a black-brown pigment; and
c) Xanthophores, comprising carotenoids and pteridines, which are yellow and reddish
The following are the 15 popular morphs prospective axolotl buyers can choose from today:
1. BLACK MELANOID
In 1961, the black melanoid recessive mutation was initially discovered in a laboratory. These kinds of amphibian pets are fairly common nowadays.
This morph is the opposite of albinos and has fewer iridophores and more melanophores. We want to stress that when potential owners look at black melanoid axolotls, they will find these animals’ hues ranging from a dark green to completely black color.
Additionally, these amphibians feature dark purple gills, and most of them have a purple or paler grey belly. The black melanoid axolotls can change their color tones, depending on the substrate.
This modification is temporary, and we want to stress that pet keepers’ axolotls will alter with any substrate. In a dark substrate, it will lead to a dark black individual, while in a light substrate, such as white sand, the amphibian will lighten up.
This axolotl morph is very rare. There is even a debate about whether or not it should be categorized as a genuine morph.
A chimera axolotl is split right down the middle into right and left halves. It exhibits one morph on one portion of its body and another on the other side.
The few chimeras that have hatched are half wild type and half albino. They merely happen when two developing eggs fuse into one.
Chimeras are not caused by genetics and are developmental accidents. Therefore, they cannot be bred selectively.
The first-ever lines of copper axolotls originated in Australia and the United States. They are more difficult to find in other territories.
The copper axolotl can be bred with other morphs, leading to particular varieties like melanoid and axanthic copper. This amphibian features a light gray body.
It has gray irises and copper-colored freckles. Additionally, copper axolotls possess a lighter belly and grayish-red gills.
Some of them are more caramel in hue, and others are nearly pink. Many amphibian pet enthusiasts love copper axolotls because of their sandy hues and cute and speckled faces, making them popular in locations where they are sold.
Enigma axolotls are dark gray and with golden eyes, white belly and toes, and pale red gills. Potential owners will find these amphibian pets covered in sparkly golden patches that look green from certain angles.
Enigma axolotls are truly one-of-a-kind. A breeder initially discovered them in the United States.
Moreover, enigmas are wild kinds with a high amount of iridophores on their bodies. At the time of writing, there is only one enigma axolotl, and not much is known about this morph’s heritability or genetics.
Scientist Lloyd Strohl II developed the firefly axolotl. This artificially created morph is involved in embryonic graphing originally employed to study limb regeneration.
Axolotl aficionados believe that the firefly morph was created in a laboratory, making them very rare.
These darkly colored wild-type axolotls feature green fluorescent protein albino tails, which glow bright green under a blacklight, making them look similar to a firefly.
6. GOLDEN ALBINO
These axolotls range from nearly pure white to yellow, orange-gold, and peach. On their bodies, they feature reflective spots and speckles.
Additionally, golden albino axolotls exhibit peachy gills with a light yellow tint as well as pink, yellow, or white eyes. As they age, they start to get their alluring golden color.
Golden albino axolotls do not possess melanophores like most of the light-colored axolotls on this list. This unique morph keeps xanthophores, providing it with a golden-yellow hue.
These amphibian pets, which feature substantial iridophores, can appear like they are covered in a golden leaf.
7. GREEN FLUORESCENT PROTEIN
We want to inform interested axolotl owners that scientists originally discovered the green fluorescent protein gene in jellyfish and artificially introduced it into the axolotl genome. In 2005, researchers created this morph at the Max Planck Institute to study cancer and cellular movement.
We agree that first-time axolotl keepers will find the green fluorescent protein variant looking similar to any morph at first glance. Nevertheless, these amphibians glow a bright fluorescent green once they get exposed to the light of a UV lamp.
This attribute is invisible in normal lighting, though unmistakable in UV light. Green fluorescent protein axolotls with lighter skin glow brighter similar to the leucistic or albino species.
8. HEAVILY-MARKED MELANOID
The heavily-marked melanoid axolotl is the black melanoid morph’s extraordinary variant. It features the normal black melanoids’ same purplish-gray and black spots, though with yellow and light green patches.
We want to highlight the fact that heavily-marked melanoid axolotls are rare, only seen a few times, and very little is known about this amphibian. They are uncommon because there is no way to forecast whether two melanoid parents will produce a heavily-marked offspring.
Lavender axolotls are rare and are mainly found in the United States. They are very popular and highly preferred because of their polka-dotted appearance and soft purple hue.
Furthermore, lavender axolotls typically have a light and silvery purple body with black eyes and grayish-red gills. Pet keepers will also find these amphibians’ physique with gray spots that earned them their “silver Dalmatian” name.
These axolotls feature leucism, which involves a mutation leading to fewer melanocytes produced in the skin. Leucistic axolotls do not have the same patterns as the wild-type morph since melanocytes produce the dark pigment melanin.
Additionally, these translucent white species feature dark brown or black eyes, pink or red gills, and shiny gold flecks. In the wild, leucistic axolotls are very rare since predators can easily spot them.
We want to inform interested owners that leucistic axolotls look very similar to albinos, yet the latter have red eyes. Leucistics are among the most common and beautiful morphs in captivity.
The mosaic axolotls cannot be bred and are happy accidents, similar to the chimera axolotl. They are usually not sold in the market and are rare.
Nevertheless, we want to emphasize that interested keepers may find them available for sale on occasion. Mosaic axolotls are mottled with white, black, and golden flecks.
They may also feature striped purple and red gills. Most of these amphibians with multicolored eyes are a combination of albino and melanistic parents, resulting from two eggs fusing into one.
Moreover, each cell randomly displays hues from either parent instead of being split down the middle, leading to a one-of-a-kind and marvelous axolotl color.
These amphibian pets with black eyes are a kind of leucistic morph with melanophore concentration on their backs and heads. Additionally, the piebald gene is very rare, though inheritable.
Most piebald axolotl breeders are from New Zealand. Buyers will notice this exotic pet being white with red gills and gray, dark green, or black symmetrical patches on their back and face.
Sometimes, the markings on the piebald axolotl’s body will continue onto their legs and sides. However, this incident is rare, and mostly this pattern is isolated to the body’s top half.
As the piebald axolotl ages, this pattern darkens and can lead to a white and black salamander.
13. SPECKLED LEUCISTIC
This axolotl is a leucistic mutation type. It comes with black, brown, or dark green speckles on its head, back, and tail.
Furthermore, speckled leucistic axolotls’ base hue is white, similar to the normal leucistic morphs. The speckling amount is not as extreme as it is in the mosaic or piebald morphs.
Speckled leucistic axolotls often begin looking identical to a leucistic kind and develop speckling later in their life. Plus, their pigment cells mature as they grow, enabling their freckle pattern and coloration to change.
14. WHITE ALBINO
This amphibian is sheer white with red gill filaments. The white albino axolotl also features white or pink eyes and golden flecks on the gill stalks.
These animals lack melanophores and xanthophores. They are very similar to the leucistic morphs, though they do not feature pigment in their eyes, making them more sensitive to light, including daytime light.
We also want to stress that white albino axolotls generally possess poorer vision than other types of axolotls.
15. WILD TYPE
The wild kind of axolotl is dark grayish-green. It has olive and black mottling, and we want to point out that these hues are the default ones and are the oldest in the pet trade.
A wild axolotl has a pale belly and gold speckles from the iridophores. They have similar patterns and hues as wild species.
Plus, this morph has dark eyes with golden irises and purple gill filaments. Depending on the individual, they may be nearly black, gray, or a lighter yellow-green, and their coloration lets them blend into the muddy lakebeds close to Mexico City.
Keeping Flamboyant Axolotls as Pets
Axolotls are colorful amphibian pets. Some of them are rare, while others are abundant and widely available in pet shops.
Axolotls are certainly eye-catching and offer a whole new vista when domesticated as home companions.
We want to suggest prospective axolotl keepers read more about these lovely creatures’ maintenance requirements and tips. We certainly highly recommend exotic pet enthusiasts to try their hand at taking care of these amphibians.
By providing them the right love and upkeep they need, we believe axolotls will make fine home companions similar to the other wild animals domesticated as pets.