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My axolotl is undergoing a metamorphosis, how can I support it so that it can live its new earthly life happily?

First of all, the causes of a metamorphosis:
Genetic cause: thyroid stimulated on certain strains for experimental purposes, it is assumed that progenies (more frequent in Germany) are brought to mutate even under perfect conditions of maintenance.
Possible trigger: an environment that has become hostile: dirty, hot water, little oxygen, little water, etc. But we must not forget that it is not as simple for the axolotl as for the other urodeles, the genetic cause remains the first.
Note that Ambystoma Andersoni, cousin of axolotl is more prone to mutate. PHOTO

What is metamorphosis?
The dorsal veil decreases until it completely disappears, the four legs lengthen and thicken in order to prepare for terrestrial gravity; the filaments then the gills disappear completely, the skin sheds and thickens, mobile eyelids appear. Here is our Ambystoma Mexicanum ready to face life on earth.


THE TERRARIUM: A terrarium measuring 90 x 50 x 40 (100 x 40 x 30) centimeters is a minimum for an adult couple. The substrate will be composed of 50% blond peat without fertilizer and 50% "plantation soil" of Exo Terra, a mixture allowing to maintain a high hygrometry (humidity) and to plant the terrarium properly. This substrate is laid out over a thickness of ten centimeters (minimum), the whole being covered with dead leaves from local undergrowth (cleaned and microwaved to disinfect them). You can install very soft foam such as spaigne, which can be found in damp undergrowth. A small basin is placed in the terrarium, with a low water height (five centimeters). Temperatures / Lighting / Hygrometry: The metamorphosed axolotl lives without concern at room temperature (14/24 ° C), but does not appreciate strong heat. It must be ensured that it can bury itself to cool itself. Here is an axolotl still in the water but metamorphosed, its new owner is preparing a terrarium for it.

Plants are welcome in the universe of the loulou, if you want a well planted environment and as natural as possible you will still need a UV lamp with low radiation: uvb 2% and uva 10% directed in a specific area if he wishes to land there. In addition, so that the plants can grow properly, either position the terrarium near a window or if this is not possible use artificial lighting. The humidity will be between 70% and 80%, it can be "drier" but it will always be necessary to ensure that the animals have a water basin available. The terrarium will be sprayed daily or every other day. Here are some examples of terrarium layout:

terrarium, metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl, terrarium
terrarium, metamorphose axolotl

FOOD: This species is quite voracious, so be careful of overfeeding. Carnivorous, it feeds on different preys, which will be varied as much as possible for the sake of a good nutritional supply: earthworms, potting soil, hive moth, mealworms (if the head is crushed, locusts, etc. foods that were previously prohibited for many are now allowed. An individual is fed a good quantity every three days. Collect the waste well so that it does not rot. All preys are sprinkled with calcium. Since a source of UV is present, the preys will not be sprinkled with vitamin D3 (unless no UV lamp in the terra).

In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.

REPRODUCTION: It takes place in water, the young have a very good chance of metamorphosis in their turn but not enough feedback on these reproductions to establish ratios.

metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl


Metamorphosed but why? Some might think that poor maintenance is the cause of a metamorphosis, but in reality lowering the water level and raising the temperature of the water will only kill your pet. An injection of hormones can make it evolve in terrestrial, but strongly discouraged, this test is so exhausting for the animal that it does not always survive, moreover its life expectancy is reduced to 5 years. No really known cause for the metamorphosed, however a genetic track is considered. Some axos have been mixed with other cousins to obtain certain colors, so these mixtures promote metamorphosis. Know that if an axo has to metamorphose, nothing will prevent it. This most often occurs around 17cm, in any case after reaching more than 20 cm, it is unusual for it to undergo metamorphosis.

metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl

How a Metamorphosis Works (This article is based entirely on my personal experience with my axo metamorphosis, so if you're in the case of a metamorphosis, you may not have the same experience as I. Some axolotls metamorphose more or less quickly than others.)

metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl
In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.
First day
I discovered my axo which had its back veil greatly reduced. In the doubt of an illness, I isolated him in a quarantine tank to check if he was eating normally and had no other symptoms. He had also refused to eat for a few days. I also observed that these eyes "stood out", indeed an eyelid was being formed for the preparation for an earthly life.
metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl
metamorphose axolotl

Terrarium, yes but which one? You can opt for a tank, an aquarium or a terrarium according to your tastes and your budget. Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each. Widely used for amphibians of all kinds, it is perfect for a metamorphosed axo. It will have 5 closed sides, and the front side open with a window that will open and serve as a door. Amphibians being fearful by nature, it is preferable that they are not locked in a terrarium entirely made of so-called "open" glass, they need the closed sides that they feel safe without seeing everything that is happening in them. the room. The terrarium must be waterproof, because it will need to be humidified regularly, and must have ventilation to avoid fungi. advantages: sold in the trade already prepared, you will not have any "work" to do on it to adapt it to the axo. disadvantages: I do not see any for my part.

Aquarium: Being adapted to aquatic life, you will need to modify it for terrestrial life. However if you only had one axo and it morphs it will save you money, you will already have a place to install it. Equipped with a cover it will be ideal because it happens that the metamorphosed escape. pros: It's easier to find a cheap aquarium, you may already have one and therefore don't have to invest in another terra. These windows will allow you to observe your animal from all sides and sometimes when it is buried. disadvantages: it only has the glass front and therefore the animal may feel in danger, so you will see it less than if it were in a terrarium. The door would therefore be the cover, it can frighten the animal. And you will have to from the top rather than from the front. Aeration is necessary, it is difficult to install one with a completely closed container.

Tank: Identical to the aquarium but without a cover. advantages: if you feel like a handyman, you will like to arrange it. They are often lower than aquariums, because the height will no longer matter for the axo, it will be mainly burrowing. disadvantages: you will have to make the cover yourself with cleats and a mesh or mosquito net. Similar to the aquarium, it does not have closed sides, and its door will also be at the top, all these elements tend to stress the axo. So in summary, the terrarium being the perfect solution, the aquarium being the ideal and the tank the most restrictive but not bad either, make your choice. The size of the terrarium should be 80 cm long and 35/40 cm wide. The height does not matter, a minimum of 20 cm is recommended.


The substrate to begin with will require a height of at least 10cm of substrate as it will like to bury itself. You will have the choice between coconut humus, peat, amphibian soil without fertilizer and soil from your garden if it does not contain any products.

metamorphose axolotl, installation terrarium
metamorphose axolotl, installation terrarium

We will add forest moss on top, previously cleaned and soaked for 24 hours so that the small insects that could have remained in it are no longer there.
You will find dry ones in pet stores, but I recommend real fresh and green, it looks more natural and pretty.
metamorphose axolotl, installation terrarium

Do not take sphagnum moss, because it could ingest it and make an occlusion.
You can also put a carpet of dead oak leaves, previously microwaved in order to kill any bacteria.
The meta having become a burrower, think about setting up a cave, a hiding place, a cork bark, in which it can hide and dig.
If you want to create a completely natural environment, you can add fern-type plants (bought in garden centers, because those from forests are too large and do not hold), and small plants that live fairly well with high humidity.

Most important, a water point. It should be large enough for the axo to swim in it completely, but not too deep, because it is no longer aquatic and no longer swims.

metamorphose axolotl, installation terrarium

You will need a new plant sprayer, as each day you will need to mist the area to keep it moist, but not soggy.

Lights and temperature

Lighting is not absolutely necessary, but it is preferable to put one. A led lamp will be perfect, in order to create a day / night cycle for the animal. As in the aquatic state, it will appreciate less light, so do not take one that will light too brightly, or flashy colors. White or yellow will be perfect.
Try to light up during the same hours of sunshine as your home. On average 11h per day in spring, 12h in summer, 9h in autumn and 8h in winter seems a good compromise.

Temperature and hibernation
It will always stay in low temperatures, no more than 25 ° C.
As for many amphibians and reptiles, it will be necessary to envisage a period of hibernation of two months, and to lower the temperature to 5 ° C. You can prepare a smaller hibernation tank with 10 cm of substrate, leaves and hiding places and take this box down to the cellar for example. It will bury itself and will not feed. Hibernation will allow your animal to live longer. Hibernation will also be necessary for the reproduction of your animal, although it is strongly discouraged. It will be necessary to stop feeding the animal a few days before making it hibernate, so that its digestive system is empty.


His new diet will be composed entirely of insects. You will therefore have to breed some of them, and feed them within 48 hours before giving them to the axo, otherwise they will have no nutritional value. You can also release earthworms in your terra, your axo will feed on them from time to time. Woodlice will also be welcome, they will feed on rubbish in your land, which will allow you to change your substrate less often.

You will also have to choose how to feed your animal, that is to say release the insects alive in the terra, which will push your animal to keep its wild instinct and therefore you will not have "links / contacts" with it, it will therefore be less visible. , or feed it with the tongs, which will allow it to no longer be afraid of you, to see it going out to come and eat, to be sure that it is eating well.

List of insects to donate

Crickets, cockroaches and locusts (remove their legs to avoid injury), will be its main consumption.
Mealworms, morio worms, beehive moth, once a month, because they are very rich and will be used as sweets.
You can also try the beef heart once a month.

To avoid !! Insects such as bedbugs, gendarmes.
It is important to vary their diet as much as possible. But even with this strain, you will need to sprinkle her food once a week with calcium, which you can easily find in pet stores or at a nac vet.
The frequency of feeding will be about 3-4 times a week.

Way of life

The life expectancy of your animal is very markedly reduced, going from 15 years (on average) in the aquatic state, to only 5 years in the terrestrial state.
Your animal will not be very active and visible during the day, it will be buried most of the time. Do not have fun looking for it, it will only increase their fear of you and increase their stress. It may not be visible for a week or two because it is buried. If you can get your pet used to being. Fed with the pincers, once this habit has been acquired, tap your pincers a little against the terra so that it will associate the noise of the pincers with the feeding and as and when it will know how to register this, it will come of its own accord to the carries his meal.

Like any amphibian, it has fragile skin and is very sensitive to bacteria, which is why you should not handle your animal.


A metamorphosed axo can reproduce, it is strongly advised not to make them reproduce because their descendants will have a very good chance of metamorphosis too.
However, if you want to do this you will have to make them hibernate, like many amphibians, it is hibernation that causes reproduction afterwards if your meta. is a female she is not likely to retain eggs, however if you do not wish to take this risk do not hibernate her.

I will therefore conclude this article with some photos of my little Optimus (who is no longer of this world today).
Article and photos by Alecsandra.
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