As years have passed, people’s choices of pets have also changed a lot. Gone are the days when people were only interested in keeping cats, dogs, and birds as pets.
Nowadays, many exotic animals such as frogs, toads, lizards, and axolotls are very high on people’s lists of pets. But among all of these, axolotls are an especially endangered species. If you are in the UK, it’s only natural to wonder, are axolotls illegal in the UK?
There are varying laws in various parts of the UK. Keeping axolotls as pets is not illegal anywhere in the UK. But the laws are different when it comes to releasing them into the wild. In Scotland, it is illegal to release them into the wild as they are a foreign species.
Let’s take a detailed look at the legal aspects of keeping axolotls in the UK.
Is it illegal to keep Axolotls in the UK?
Before going into the legal details of keeping axolotls as pets in the UK, let’s first know about what axolotls are. This will help you understand the reason why Scotland banned releasing them in the wild.
Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) are a close relative of salamanders which are found exclusively in Mexico. Although their appearance resembles that of a fish, they aren’t fish. These animals have gills, so despite being amphibians, they don’t live on the land much. As pollution in Mexico is increasing exponentially, these amphibians are becoming less and less available in the wild.
Now, despite these animals being on the verge of extinction in the wild, their demand for axolotls as exotic pets is ever-increasing. This is due to a couple of factors.
- First, their unique look and characteristics make them excellent exotic pets.
- Second, the introduction of axolotl characters in Minecraft has instantly increased their demand. The same thing happened when ‘Finding Nemo’ came out and clownfish demand went through the roof.
Due to these animals being near-extinct and not being from around the UK, people often think that owning these animals is illegal here. But it is not illegal in any way to own an axolotl or two. It is very beneficial for the species itself as they are being bred, and their numbers are increasing.
But if you want to release them into the wild, you will find yourself in trouble if you live in Scotland. Axolotls are not native to the UK, so releasing them into the wild will result in them becoming an invading species which will destroy the balance of the Scottish ecosystem. So even though you probably want to reintroduce them to the wild, it doesn’t always bring the best results.
Is it legal to sell Axolotls in the UK?
There’s no reason you can’t sell axolotls in the UK. Because there’s no point in legalizing keeping axolotls as pets only to illegalize selling them. But, there are a few rules and regulations you have to abide by if you want to sell these animals in the UK. You can’t sell axolotls if you don’t have a trading license. Also, you can’t import them from a non-EU country, not even Mexico.
How to obtain Axolotls in the UK?
Getting your hands on an axolotl isn’t very hard if you live in the UK. Here are a few ways how you can do it:
- By buying them: As mentioned above, there’s no restriction on selling axolotls in the UK. As a result, there are plenty of pet shops that sell them. You can visit any of these shops to buy one for yourself.
- Importing them from EU countries: There are a lot of countries that are EU members that have breeders who breed axolotls. You can contact a breeder and import the animal from them.
- Getting them from another owner: Axolotls are quite difficult to take care of if you are not fully committed. As a result, a lot of people want to give their pets away. If you really want to have an axolotl as a pet, you can just find someone willing to give one of his pets away.
Tips to keep axolotls as pets
Axolotls are unique in a lot of ways. From their one-of-a-kind look to their incredible regenerative powers, they catch your eye in an instant. Once an axolotl loses one of its limbs, it can grow the limb back. If you want to keep these animals as pets, here are a few tips on how you should do it.
1. Tank size
The tank in which you keep your axolotl has to be long, as they love to walk underwater. The ideal tank size for keeping one axolotl is at least 20 gallons. The dimensions of the tank should be 60x30x30 cm for the animal to be completely comfortable in it.
2. Water temperature
Since axolotls come from Mexico, the water temperature they are used to is moderate. You have to make sure the water temperature of their tank stays around 18 degrees Celsius. If the temperature gets too high, it will stress the animal and also cause fungal and bacterial infections.
A drop in temperature is also not ideal for an axolotl. As the temperature drops, like most amphibians, their metabolism also drops. This causes the animal to suffer from malnutrition which in turn makes them weak and sick.
3. Acidity levels
Axolotls survive in neutral waters that are neither acidic nor basic. The water in their tanks should be so neutral that the pH level of the water must never go beyond the 7.4-7.6 range. Fluctuations in pH levels in an axolotl tank can have adverse effects on the health and well-being of the axolotls.
Axolotls are used to darker surroundings. They also lack eyelids, so it’ll be better if the axolotl tank does not have any intense lighting. Use softer lighting while also providing them with enough hiding places such as plants so that they can get away from the light if they want to.
It’s fatal to use gravel as substrates in an axolotl tank. Axolotls eat their food by sucking water into their mouths. If there is gravel in their tank, it will go into their mouth and digestive organs and cause irreparable damage.
The best substrate to have in an axolotl tank is sand. Not only will it not hurt their digestive organs, but it will also help them walk around the tank because the animals have a better grip.
Axolotls are used to still and clear water. So you need to keep the water clean always. Use a filtration system that can turn over the water in the tank at least 4–5 times per hour while keeping the water still. Axolotls are not accustomed to currents, so they won’t do very well if the filtration system keeps churning the tank water.
This is one of the main reasons people don’t want to keep axolotls for a long time. These animals are cannibalistic when young, so you can’t keep multiple juvenile axolotls in the same tank.
Also, they eat small fish, so you can’t keep them with axolotls either. You should keep one axolotl by itself in one tank. Or if you really want to keep multiple axolotls in a tank, ensure all of them are adults.
The most important part of owning any pet is ensuring it has its proper diet. The diet of young and adult axolotls varies, so keep that in mind when feeding them. If you have young axolotls, you need to feed them black worms, frozen bloodworms, or micro-worms every day. On the other hand, the adult axolotls’ diet includes nightcrawlers, salmon pellets, and red wigglers.
Unlike young animals, adult axolotls don’t need to be fed every day. Feeding them 2 worms every couple of days should be just fine. Young axolotls don’t survive more than two days without food, so if you are going somewhere, ensure they are fed every day.
Do axolotls make good pets?
If the housing and the diet are properly maintained, then axolotls make very good pets. They live a long time, don’t cause any trouble, and you don’t have to search for them everywhere because they won’t climb out of the tank and run about like tree frogs.
But if you are going to buy them as pets for your children, then we would suggest you don’t do so. Because axolotls need total commitment and serious handling. On the other hand, children quickly lose interest in pets that they can’t handle, pet, and cuddle with, and also the pets which they can’t play with.
It’s only normal that people would want exotic pets for their one-of-a-kind looks and traits. Axolotls being quite rare and unique looking, are also in quite high demand as a result.
But because it is not native to the UK, people often fear legal problems, so they ask experts if axolotls are legal in the United Kingdom. Although it is legal to own them, you should not release them into the wild because they are a foreign species, and they are quite voracious. This will change the local ecosystem.