life cycle of the Axolotl

The Axolotl, the cute little aquatic animal also known as the Mexican salamander, is beautiful and unique. These amphibians are capable of regenerating lost body parts, and that’s what people know most about them. Axolotls are exclusively found in the freshwater lakes of Mexico City. They have been the subject of scientific study for decades, especially for their remarkable regenerative abilities. In addition to that, axolotls are also a fascinating subject due to their unique life cycle.

This article today is all about Axolotls and their life cycle. Moving forward, we will explore the stages of the axolotl life cycle, right from egg to adult. In addition, we will also provide a diagram of the various stages and discuss interesting facts about each stage of their development. 

Understanding the life cycle of the Axolotl is important for scientific research along with the conservation and protection of this endangered species. Whether you are a researcher, a student, or someone simply keen about Axolotls, read on to discover more. 

Axolotl Birth And Life Cycle 

Often referred to as Walking fish, Axolotls are unique amphibians native to Mexico. They were once a staple food for the Aztecs but are currently popular as aquarium/ tank pets.

Axolotls’ life cycle begins as a female lays her eggs, which the male fertilizes. Their eggs are laid in clusters and are generally attached to aquatic plants or rocks. As the Axolotl eggs fertilize, they take about 10 to 14 days and then hatch into larvae. The larvae further feed on small aquatic organisms and grow rapidly. They further undergo the process of metamorphosis after a period of six to 12 months. During metamorphosis, Axolotls experience a number of physical changes as their lungs develop and they lose their gills.

Once the process of metamorphosis completes, Axolotls transform into adults who can breed. 

However, what is extremely interesting about Axolotls is their ability to retain their larval features throughout their adult life. This means these amphibians will never fully transform into a terrestrial form. 

Axolotls live exclusively in water in the wild or in captivity. They have the ability to regenerate lost body parts, including parts of their brain, limbs, spinal cords, etc.

Axolotls are fascinating creatures but critically endangered. Their habitat loss in the wild, pollution, and over-collection for the pet trade in lessening their numbers. Conservation efforts are underway to protect axolotl populations and ensure their survival for future generations.

How Do Axolotls Turn Into Salamanders? Axolotl Salamander Life Cycle

Axolotls can undergo metamorphosis and transform themselves into Salamanders, a terrestrial form. However, the process of Metamorphosis is not a natural part of Axolotls’ life cycle. Instead, these amphibians can be induced to undergo metamorphosis by various factors. These factors include hormonal treatments and environmental cues such as temperature, light, and water quality changes.

The process of metamorphosis makes axolotls undergo a series of physical changes allowing them to survive on land. Some of these changes are the resorption of their gills, lung development for breathing, a more robust skeleton that can support the body weight on land, and the growth of stronger limbs.

However, what’s important to know is that not all axolotls will undergo metamorphosis. Not even under the right conditions is this process as obvious as it seems. Most Axolotls remain in their larval form throughout their entire life. They will retain their gills and other larval features as well.

In addition, inducing metamorphosis in axolotls can be a delicate process, which is what every enthusiast must know about. Factors like unacceptable environmental or hormonal conditions during this process can lead to deformities or sometimes prove fatal. That is why no one other than an experienced veterinarian or biologist should attempt to induce metamorphosis in axolotls.

Axolotl Lifespan In The Captivity

Axolotls have a long lifespan in captivity when compared to most aquatic amphibians. However, Axolotls, on average, have a lifespan of around 10 to 12 years in captivity. Whereas with proper care, some of them can live up to 15 years or more in captivity. 

What affects the lifespan of an axolotl is a range of factors, including their overall health, diet, water quality, etc. For a long and healthy life, Axolotls require a well-maintained aquatic environment. Clean, fresh water and a balanced diet consisting of a variety of protein-rich foods are very important for them.

When talking about their lifespan, it is important to note that axolotls are susceptible to a variety of health issues as well. Conditions like bacterial and fungal infections, parasites, and stress-related illnesses are common with them. However, regular health check-ups and prompt treatment can ensure them a healthy and long lifespan. 

PLEASE NOTE: Axolotls are critically endangered in the wild, and the pet trade threatens their survival. Therefore, it is advisable to get Axolotls from reputable breeders only. Make sure the breeder is ethical and has sustainably bred the amphibians.

Axolotl Lifespan In The Wild

In the wild, the lifespan of Axolotls is not well documented. However, experts believe that it is significantly shorter than in captivity. Axolotls in the wild face numerous threats, be it predation, habitat loss, pollution, and disease.

Axolotls in the wild also experience seasonal changes in their environment. Factors like changes in temperature and water levels also have an impact on their lifespan. Besides that, Axolotls in the wild habitat also have to compete with other aquatic species for food and resources. This, again, affects their lifespan.

However, despite their challenges in the wild, axolotls have adapted to their unique lifestyle.  

How Many Stages Of Life Do Axolotls Have?

The four main life stages of Axolotls include Egg, Larva, Juvenile, and Adult.

During the egg stage, axolotl fertilized eggs develop and hatch into larvae. Larvae are fully aquatic and have external gills for breathing. This stage is Axolotl’s life cycle’s longest and most distinct. It lasts anywhere from several months to several years. During this phase, the larvae undergo several growth stages, including shedding their skin periodically while they develop and grow.

Once the larvae develop and mature within the organs and structures, they enter the juvenile stage. It is where larvae develop more adult-like features, including larger limbs and a more pronounced head. They also begin to develop their reproductive organs during this stage.

Finally, Axolotls enter the adult stage as they grow and mature. It is when they reach their full size and sexual maturity. At this stage, adult axolotls can breed and produce offspring.

How Long Until An Axolotl Is Fully Grown?

It takes about 18 to 24 months for an axolotl to reach its full size. This may depend upon a range of factors, including genetics, diet, and environmental conditions. After the phase of growth, Axolotls can reach 9 to 12 inches in length. However, some Axolotls may grow beyond this even after the phase of 24 months, depending upon an optimal environment and the high-quality diet they are receiving. 

Some Axolotls continue to grow for several years, even after reaching their sexual maturity. Also, Axolotls are neotenic, which means they can retain their larval features even when they are adults. Therefore, axolotls may not have the same physical appearance as other fully-grown amphibians.

Providing a suitable habitat with clean, fresh water, a varied and nutritious diet, and regular veterinary check-ups, axolotls can reach their full potential size and live a healthy and long life.

13 amazing Axolotl Life Cycle Facts

Here are some interesting and important facts about the axolotl life cycle:

  1. Axolotls are neotenic, which means they retain their larval features even as adults. One of their unique traits sets them apart from other amphibians.
  2. The larval stage of the axolotl life cycle can last for several years. It is when larvae go through several growth stages.
  3. Axolotls are capable of regenerating lost body parts. They can regenerate their limbs, spinal cords, and even parts of their brain. This ability makes them an important model organism amongst scientists.
  4. While axolotls are capable of metamorphosis, this isn’t a natural part of their cycle. Metamorphosis in Axolotls is only induced under certain environmental or hormonal conditions.
  5. In the wild, axolotls face threats like habitat loss, pollution, disease, and predation, making them critically endangered. That is why international conservation laws protect these amphibians.
  6. Given proper care, axolotls can live for up to 15 years or more in captivity. They are a long-term commitment.
  7. Axolotls have the ability to breathe through their skin, in addition to their external gills. This makes them particularly susceptible to environmental toxins and pollutants.
  8. In the wild, axolotls have been known to exhibit cannibalistic behavior, particularly when food is scarce. This is more common in the larval stage, as adult axolotls generally prefer to eat smaller prey items.
  9. Axolotls have a unique ability to regrow their spinal cord. This quality is quite rare in the animal kingdom. This has important implications for human spinal cord injury research as well.
  10. Axolotls are also considered a delicacy in Mexico.
  11. Axolotls are also known as water monsters or Mexican walking fish.
  12. Axolotls have an incredible sense of smell, and they can use it to detect prey and navigate their environment. The olfactory organs in their nasal cavities are extremely sensitive to even small concentrations of chemicals in the water. That is why it is important to use non-chlorinated fresh water while keeping Axolotls as pets
  13. Axolotls can close their eyes to protect themselves but can still see through their eyelids. This quality allows them to remain alert while still protecting their eyes.


In conclusion, the axolotl life cycle is a complex and fascinating process that involves several distinct stages. From hatching as larvae to reaching adulthood, axolotls undergo a remarkable transformation. However, there’s still a lot about them that needs to be fully understood. 

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