The Axolotl is a member of the class Salamandridae. It is native to Mexico and parts of Central America but has been introduced to many other places in the Americas, including parts of Canada and California.
Axolotls can live in aquariums for owners who want to keep them as pets, and we all have observed that over the past few decades.
Many people are raising questions on Axolotl morphing since they want to understand this fascinating species better.
Axolotls are considered aquatic creatures but can quickly adapt to terrestrial habitats.
This article will look at axolotl morphing signs that you might observe while keeping them as pets.
Understanding Axolotl Morphing
Axolotls are fascinating amphibians that can be found in the wild in Mexico. They are also commonly kept as pets, although they are not always easy to care for.
While an adult axolotl is a beautiful creature that can grow up to 18 inches long, they still have a baby face.
The Axolotl is known for being able to regenerate limbs, metamorphose, and shed the skin.
These species can change from aquatic to land creatures in a process known as morphing.
However, this type of rare mutation occurs in axolotls, making them lose the underwater axolotl features and adopt terrestrial axolotl features.
In this case, they tend to lose their tail and fins required during swimming; they develop legs, and their skin color changes too.
Many might not change due to failure in producing the thyroid hormone that triggers the process.
And if kept as pets, they might end up dying due to changes in the climate. Click here to learn more about the process of morphing that the Axolotl goes through.
What Triggers Morphing in Axolotl?
Axolotl morphing is naturally considered a self-erasing gene due to the change in habitat.
However, the most observed trigger for axolotl metamorphosis is exposure to Iodine. Iodine is present in water and food sources.
If a substance containing Iodine flips into the water tank where Axolotls are kept, it might trigger them to morph.
It is a very toxic element that can cause damage to the Axolotl’s internal organs if exposed regularly.
The best way to ensure that your Axolotl does not become toxic from Iodine is by providing them with a water change every week or two.
Ensure plenty of food in their tank to access all the necessary elements within their body.
Production hormones required by their thyroid might also trigger the Axolotl’s metamorphosis. The thyroid gland controls the production of thyroxine.
Axolotls need thyroxine hormone for their metamorphosis. However, this is a sporadic case.
Is Morphing Observed in all Axolotls?
When people talk about morphing, they refer to transforming from one shape to another.
It is often seen in humans as well, but it’s not something that occurs for all axolotls. Only a tiny percentage of axolotls ever actually morph.
As we said earlier, morphing is primarily a natural self-erasing gene in Axolotl.
No morphing will be observed if these species cannot naturally produce the thyroxine hormone to trigger the changes.
Morphs are seen more commonly in captive-bred axolotls because they are more closely related.
The fact that most species do not exhibit proper morphogenesis has led some researchers to speculate that this might be related to a change in their gene expression during development or an external stimulus.
Researchers found that the expression of genes involved in general metabolism increased as the Axolotl grew from hatchling through adulthood, indicating that there was an increase in energy requirements as they grew older and more prominent.
A few scientists have developed ways to trigger the morphing process using thyroxine hormone or Iodine; however, the methods are not guaranteed to work since they may cause the death of the Axolotl.
7 Signs of Morphing In Axolotl
Axolotl commonly exhibits several signs when they are morphing.
These signs are relatively easy to spot but can be hard to diagnose.
As a morphed axolotl, it will look very similar to a tiger salamander, with a more oversized head in proportion to their body.
The tail will be shorter than when you first got your Axolotl.
Here are some signs you will observe in a morphing Axolotl:
1. Bulging Eyes
Axolotls have large, bulging eyes that are pink or orange in color.
Sometimes the eye color can change from light to dark over time.
The eyelids will also be more prominent and stick out farther than usual.
It’s a sign that your Axolotl is changing into something different from what you first thought it was.
It may only happen occasionally and often go away independently after a while.
2. Changes in their Skin Color
You might observe an intense pattern or darker tone. The Axolotl’s skin is ordinarily pale with a pinkish hue.
However, if the Axolotl’s skin turns dark, it could be due to two things.
Either it is a toxin in your water that has caused a change in coloration.
It can happen if you use hard or distilled water. If you suspect this, try using filtered water instead.
It can also indicate a genetic mutation that causes the Axolotl to change coloring. In this case, it will only affect one individual at a time.
3. Receding Fins
Axolotl fully absorbs their tail earlier used for swimming into their body during the morphing process.
Please don’t get confused; Axolotls can also lose their tail through injury or disease.
When an axolotl loses its tail, it usually grows a new one in the same spot where its previous tail was on its body.
4. Sturdier Back Legs
During the morphing process, the Axolotl’s legs will elongate and thicken.
The back legs are the first to thicken. As they grow, they get thicker at the base and taper off toward the body.
This is because they have to support the extra weight since they have to walk around during that period.
5. Shrinking Gills
The gills are absorbed over time, leaving only a tiny piece of each foot.
The gills will become translucent and thin, showing a white film on the underside.
It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the size of your Axolotl and how often they shed.
6. Webbing In Feet Disappear
The webbing in Axolotl’s feet may start to disconnect. Individual toes are generated to give them an easy ability to walk around.
It is a natural part of the process and will not harm the Axolotl. If you notice this happening, continue to treat them as usual.
7. Behavioral Changes
Morphs are a fact of life. If you have an axolotl, you will eventually see your pet change in appearance and behavior.
It can be good or bad, depending on how you take it.
Caring For Morphing Axolotl
Axolotls are lovable aquatic pets that are very easy to care for.
They only require a few simple supplies to maintain their health and well-being.
Axolotls are very sensitive to stress. They are also relatively small, so they can easily get stressed out and eventually die.
The best way to reduce stress during the morphing process is to provide a calm environment for them.
Removing the Axolotl from the tank and providing just shallow water they can drink when they are ready to morph is essential.
During the morphing process, they are losing some features required in swimming and adopting to walking in the terrestrial habitat.
When you start caring for axolotls, you will want to change their water daily.
You can do this by draining their water and replacing it with fresh water.
If debris is floating in your tank, remove it with an air pump or other circulation means before changing the water.
You will need to provide them with landmass to climb out of the water and rest.
You can make this by placing some rocks or gravel in a container with a lid that matches your tank size.
You can also use an aquarium stand or equipment with enough depth for your Axolotl’s needs.
Don’t forget to feed your Axolotl daily to keep it happy and healthy.
Can You Induce Morphing in Axolotl?
Axolotls are not typical pets and require special care, and it’s best to get one from a breeder or reputable source that you can trust.
If you decide to get an axolotl, you’ll need to know how to properly take care of the animal.
If you want to morph the Axolotl, you will need to expose it to Iodine.
The process will cause the Axolotl’s body tissues to absorb Iodine, allowing it to morph into something new over time.
You can also expose it to poor conditions for long periods.
The latter method would be cruel, as it would make the Axolotl suffer, stimulating the production of thyroxine which triggers Axolotl morphing.
What is the Lifespan of a Morphed Axolotl?
A morphed axolotl’s lifespan highly depends on its environment, genetics, and diet.
Remember, the morphing process can be very stressful due to excessive heat and diseases in the new habitat, which might lead to death.
Keeping your tank at the proper temperature and humidity levels while keeping the lid closed will help prevent the disease from spreading throughout the tank.
A healthy diet that includes plenty of food will help your Axolotl live longer than a less nutritious diet that excludes plant matter or leaves.
The lifespan of a morphed axolotl depends on many different factors, including how you handle it.
However, a naturally morphed Axolotl can live from 10 to 15 years due to low stress in the aquarium.
A morphing Axolotl is not pleasing to look at, but through this article, you know what to expect and not to panic when you see the signs discussed above.
Axolotls make great pets. They are immaculate and exciting creatures that will brighten up anyone’s life, but you can only enjoy owning one if you know how to handle them properly.