Why Are Axolotls Illegal In California? Crazy Axolotl World 

Axolotls are exotic species akin to salamanders. They are cute tiny predators with distinctive larval characteristics. 

One interesting thing about them is that they retain their external gills even after growing up.

This species only exists naturally in Lake Xochimilco, Mexico City. Many households had domesticated this animal for years in California. However, California has a set of laws that ban the possession of these exotic animals.

Axolotl grows up to between nine and twelve inches. Studies suggest that they can live as long as ten years of age. More facts about this animal are in this post. Keep reading to unravel the mystery behind the axolotls petting ban.

Why Are Axolotls Illegal In California?

California is notorious for its strict animal regulation rules. These stringent measures are necessary to protect exotic axolotl species. For this same reason, axolotls are illegal in California. 

Furthermore, the law prohibits the petting of axolotls as there are few native predators. The ban aims at maintaining a natural ecosystem for these animals to thrive. However, you can still pet this animal in other states.

What Are Axolotls?

There are baffling scientific investigations on the axolotl species. Unlike most amphibians, axolotls don’t lose their juvenile characteristics. Furthermore, they never leave the water as they don’t transform into terrestrial adults.

During the 17th century, a French zoologist, August Dumeril, performed experiments on axolotls. He tried to chop off the animal’s gills to induce artificial metamorphosis. 

However, his efforts never bore any fruit. Instead, he discovers distinct characteristics of this species. 

In most instances, the axolotls regenerate their amputated organs in a matter of weeks—an utter bizarre discovery among many in the fabric of the cosmos.

These masters of regeneration can flawlessly regenerate their body parts. Such include broken limbs crushed sections of the brain, spine, and even eyes. 

How do they manage to do this? It would be best to revisit axolotl’s history to understand this phenomenon.

This species is native to the wetland regions of Mexico City. The medieval Aztec people believe that this exotic salamander is the god Xolotl. From Xolotl, the axolotls get their name, which roughly translates to “Water Monster.” 

The maturity of this distinct salamander results in its growing gills and dorsal fins similar to the tadpole. 

Their neoteny, forever-young condition, is an evolution resulting from their stable natural habitat. Besides, there were fewer predators in axolotl’s habitat.

Some schools think it is advantageous for these animals to forgo complete morphing. However, these organisms can undergo metamorphosis when certain substances affect their DNA.

They will turn into adults and lose their young features. Nonetheless, they experience very short lifespans afterward. Moreover, they may lose some of their regenerative healing abilities.

Natural regenerative healing may seem like a natural wonder, but axolotl has an important use for it. 

As babies, they compete to survive and often snack on each other. This weird reality isn’t a great deal to them as they can rapidly regenerate their parts.

When an axolotl loses a body part, its tissues stimulate growth in that area. Skin cells then develop to cover the wound. 

Afterward, a mass of cells will form thanks to the progenitor cells. Adjacent nerves will then nourish the area with growth proteins. 

Over the next few days, the new body part fully develops. The coordinated proliferation and differentiation of the cells result in distinct organs. Can the regeneration result in uncontrolled growth?

Hell no. These variants of the salamander have remarkable resistance to cancer. Thus tumor formation is impossible since its system regulates cellular proliferation. Scientists found that axolotl’s genome sequence is ten times longer than a human’s.

Further investigation into the genome of an axolotl reveals numerous redundant sequences. Most of them don’t code for proteins, and scientists are yet to know their role. The scientists also found genes vital in the regenerative process. 

So, what is the distinguishing factor that distinguishes axolotl regeneration? It isn’t a set of unique genes they process but rather how they regulate them. More research into axolotl is still underway. 

The population of this endangered species was high when the Aztec civilization was booming. 

The axolotls thrived in the chinampas (islands for crops), whose water flew from surrounding lakes.

A vast network of canals from the chinampas offers a shallow and well-sheltered habitat ideal for the axolotl colony. 

However, this conducive ecosystem did not last long. The Spanish invaders interfered with it.

They began draining the lakes to get water for human activities. Even after the Spaniards, recent years have seen more water diversion from the lakes. A considerable population of the axolotl phased out, leaving very few behind. 

The axolotl population is under a thousand, and all of them exist in only one place, Lake Xochimilco. They strive to survive there amidst invasive aquatic species and menacing water pollution. 

Concerned individuals are working to rebuild this ecosystem by reviving the ancient chinampa farming technique. 

Hopefully, this will give the axolotl lives a shot. Their benefits are maybe even more significant.

We can speculate the significant role these animals will play in our future generation. Imagine how healthcare will improve when scientists find a way of coding the axolotl’s genome in the human DNA? We’ll be talking about fewer cancer cases and regenerative abilities. 

Axolotl Care Guide

Even though owning an axolotl in California is illegal, you can pet this remarkable animal in other states. 

It is an endangered species. Therefore, some essential guides should help you take good care of your axolotl.

1. Water Tank With An Excellent Filtration

The tank setup is one of the crucial factors you should consider for your axolotl. Ensure your axolotl has plenty of water to roam around. 

Twenty gallons should suffice. For additional axolotls, consider adding 10 to 20 more gallons of water. 

An ample water supply allows the axolotls to breathe well underwater. It would help if you also had a thermometer to help you monitor the temperature in the tank. 

It will help you determine whether the environment is cold enough for the survival of this animal.

These animals need around 60℉ and 68℉ and can be lower if necessary. Colder temperatures are better as these animals are from the mountains. Keep the tank open to ensure the natural circulation of air in the water.

It would be best to have a quality filtration mechanism for your axolotls. More filtration cleans up the tank’s ecosystem well, but you have to minimize the flow rate. For this reason, an ideal filter should be a spray bar, a baffle, or a sponge filter. 

2. Substrate And Hiding Spot

What kind of substrate do you need? There are many substrate options for your axolotl’s tank. 

Bare bottoms, slate tanks, and fine sand are standard in conventional tanks. You’ll need to be careful with the sand or gravel you use as a substrate.

Axolotls sometimes swallow tiny grains of sand. They consume them for buoyancy, but sometimes their intestines may suffer from impaction. You can combat this by increasing the granular sizes.

I would recommend a bare bottom tank. The beauty of this substrate lies in the ease of cleaning it creates. 

Furthermore, it saves you from worrying about what you don’t want to go into your axolotl’s stomach.

Axolotls don’t like too many lighting conditions. It would help if you considered reducing the illumination you offer them. If you’d like to keep lights on more often, include hides and spots for them to take refuge.

3. Decors And Quality Of Water

Any form of aquarium decor is okay. It doesn’t matter whether it is fake or living plants. However, the live plant may crush when the axolotl rests on it. This information should help you select decors for your never-aging pet.

Like most marine life, axolotls like to move around. Therefore, do not overdo the decor at the expense of space. 

Instead, ensure that you create enough room for them to swim. Minimize the density of your decoration at the bottom, as most axolotls dwell at the bottom.

Axolotl lives optimally in a freshwater environment. For this reason, regular chlorination and cycling of the tank are necessary. Moreover, maintain an alkaline pH within 6.8 to 8, similar to the mountain water.

They eat to survive. Therefore, expect axolotls to shit in the tank, step on the shit, and create poop dust. 

You will regularly have to clean the tank as filtration only won’t be effective. Having a lot of gallons of water in the tank will save you from this hustle.


Axolotls are among the most studied species on the planet. Scientists find their unique qualities irresistible and are putting more effort into researching them. We can’t do anything but brace ourselves for how the breakthrough will turn out. 

It is illegal to own axolotls in California. The primary reason behind this is that its species is facing extinction. However, you can move with your pet to a different state where it is legal to pet an axolotl. This article provides you with some guide care for your pet friend. 

John Taylor
John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!


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