types of axolotl

14 Types of Axolotl: Morphs, Habitats, Diets

Axolotls are salamanders whose captivating looks are out-of-this-world. These fantastic creatures can retain their juvenile form throughout life, never undergoing the metamorphosis into adulthood, which is uncommon in most amphibians. They have feathery external gills that flutter gracefully from the sides of their heads, resembling a delicate crown fit for an aquatic monarch.

Aside from their looks, they also possess extraordinary regenerative abilities. If injured, an axolotl can regrow its limbs and portions of its spinal cord, heart, and other vital organs, a feat unparalleled in the animal kingdom. Wild axolotls are critically endangered, but different axolotl morphs are bred in captivity due to their fame in the pet industry. Axolotl colors range from white and lavender to gold.

In this guide, we will tackle the different types of Axolotl and their key identification traits.

Related read: Axolotl Facts

14 Unique Types of Axolotl Morphs

1. Wild Type Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know Wild Type Axolotls are the most common and widely recognized Axolotls?

As their name suggests, the Wild Type Axolotl resembles their wild cousins most. They mainly have a rich dark brown or black body, complemented by varying shades of gold or light brown speckling. These colors help them blend in with their surroundings and stay hidden. This disguise technique has been developed over many years as a survival strategy3.

Axolotl sports fringed external gills, and a caudal fin unfurls to its tail from the back of its head, lending to its distinct appearance. This is one of the most common and readily available morphs. This morph is an affordable option compared to some of the rarer and more intricate morphs. Prices can range from $20 to $50, depending on age, size, and the breeder's reputation.

2. Leucistic Axolotl

leucistic axolotl
Photo by 22Kartika on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Cropped from original

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Leucistic Axolotl is often called the "Ghost Axolotl"? This is due to its pale pink or white skin and bright red or pink eyes.

Unlike their Albino siblings, Leucistic Axolotls remain their color, with ebony eyes that stand out more against their light skin. Leucism is a rare genetic disease that reduces the skin pigment cells, which results in a more pale appearance. The Leucistic Axolotl is often mistaken for an albino because of its pink gills and pale skin.

Considered one of the rarer axolotl morphs, prices typically range from $50 to $100 or more.

3. Golden Albino Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know that, unlike their pigmented counterparts, Golden Albino Axolotls lack melanin, the pigment responsible for skin color? This absence of melanin extends to their irises, resulting in their captivating crimson or pink eyes2.

The Golden Albino Axolotl boasts a radiant golden coloration, setting it apart from its more common counterparts. Its striking hue ranges from warm, pale gold to a richer shade reminiscent of molten precious metal. Their eyes possess a vivid red or pink tint.

Golden Albino Axolotls are rare due to their distinct coloration. Owning a Golden Albino Axolotl often has a higher price tag than more common morphs. Prices can range from $75 to $150 or more.

4. White Albino Axolotl

white albino axolotl
Photo by Bernard DUPONT on Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that White Albino Axolotl's almost transparent skin lets you observe what happens inside their bodies? When examined under specialized lighting, you can see the rhythmic pulsations of its heart, the flowing circulation of blood vessels, and even the subtle movements of its digestive system!

The White Albino Axolotl presents a mesmerizing palette of pure1, snowy white that starkly contrasts its vibrant pink or red irises. Like other axolotls, White Albinos keep their youthful looks throughout their lives.

White Albino Axolotls are rarer due to their unique coloration and can cost you $60 to $120 or more.

5. Melanoid Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Melanoid Axolotl is often called the "Black Beauty" or the "Black Melanoid Axolotl"? This Axolotl morph results from a genetic mutation that leads to higher melanin production, the pigment responsible for stunning jet-black skin.

The Melanoid Axolotls feature various forms, from lightly specked to the heavily marked melanoid. They typically have a dark and matte appearance. They don't have shiny colors or yellow-red cells in their skin, giving them a dark, matte look. They usually have dark purple gills, dark blue eyes, and a lighter belly.

Unlike other types, they are solid in color and don't have any shiny or colorful patches. As opposed to albinos, they have more melanophores than iridophores.

Furthermore, Black Melanoid Axolotls are relatively common among axolotl enthusiasts, making them a readily available option, and prices range from $20 to $50.

6. Copper Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Copper Axolotl's colors result from reduced levels of melanin and pteridines?

The Copper Axolotl has a rich and distinct color palette, ranging from deep, gleaming browns to lustrous reddish-coppers. Copper Axolotls are considered somewhat rarer compared to more common morphs. Prices vary but typically range from $50 to $100 or more.

7. GFP Axolotl (Green Fluorescent Protein)

Fun Fact: Did you know the GFP Axolotl, or the Green Fluorescent Protein Axolotl, can glow in the dark? This unique feature is due to a naturally occurring protein called Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP), also found in certain species of jellyfish. This protein causes their skin to emit a vibrant light green glow under ultraviolet light.

This morph appears in light to dark green to muted yellow. It is the only one who can glow in the dark among all morphs. This ability is most prominent during the early larval stage of GFP Axolotls.

GFP Axolotls are relatively rare due to their specialized genetic modification. You can buy them for around $100 to $300.

8. Mosaic Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Mosaic Axolotl got its name from the various colors and patches on its skin? These colors result from the combination of melanistic and albino genes from their parents.

Mosaic morphs have a memorable and eye-catching pattern on their skin that looks like a mosaic. This pattern happens because the cells in their skin have different colors or patterns due to genetics. However, breeding more Mosaic Morphs can be tricky because you can only sometimes predict the patterns in the babies. People like Mosaic Axolotls because of their one-of-a-kind look.

These creatures can bounce back from injuries, regenerating lost limbs, hearts, and even spinal cords in a way that never ceases to amaze. Mosaic Axolotls are rarer than more common morphs and can cost between $60 to $120.

9. Chimera Axolotls

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Chimera Axolotl is named after a mythical creature from Greek mythology? In mythology, a chimera was a fire-breathing monster with the body parts of different animals.

As one of the rarest axolotl morphs, Chimera Axolotls have a clear distinction with a half side, typically a light shade, the other in a darker contrast. However, Axolotls' genetics can cause health problems like organ or tissue abnormalities. Chimera are considered relatively rare due to the unpredictable genetic processes that lead to their distinctive appearance. Pet owners who want to purchase one can pay around $100 to $300.

10. Piebald Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Piebald Axolotl is often called the "panda" of the Axolotl world? With its striking black and white coloration, Piebald Axolotls closely resemble the adorable giant pandas found in China.

The Piebald Axolotl has a unique speckled pigmentation pattern, with no two being the same. They are known as piebald, but the "pie" means magpie, while the "bald" means streaked with white. The Piebald Axolotl is a nocturnal hunter that can thrive in dark and light environments. They have a peaceful and charming behavior that they can share with the other axolotls, which makes them more popular among pet lovers.

This axolotl breed offers the best of both worlds - striking looks and an easy-going temperament. Prices may range from $60 to $120.

11. Lavender Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Lavender Axolotl is not a naturally occurring color variation in the wild?

With their enchanting hues, Lavender Axolotls top the chart regarding unique colorings in axolotls. Their extraordinary tints swing from a mystical light purple to a deeper lavender. Their gills are often the same color as their bodies, while their eyes are mostly black and their purple bodies are also covered with gray spots (which earned them the name of Silver Dalmatian).

Despite their rarity, many American pet owners highly covet this morph and are willing to pay around $60 to $100.

12. Enigma Axolotl

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Enigma Axolotl is named after the mysterious and puzzling nature of its appearance? This unique type of Axolotl exhibits a striking pattern of white spots and speckles on its dark-colored body.

The body color of Enigma Axolotls is defined by a distinctive mix of colors, often including shades of black, dark gray, and white. They usually have a white underbelly with pale red gills and golden eyes. Their bodies are also usually covered by golden flecks.

They are known to be playful and curious, showcasing their inquisitive personalities by sticking to the front of their tank. To keep Enigma Axolotls healthy and happy, it is essential to provide them with clean and comfortable fresh water that maintains a temperature of 15-20°C and a pH between 7.4 and 7.6. These creatures prefer dimly lit environments as they are nocturnal, but they are still friendly and easy to care for.

Owning an Enigma Axolotl may cost slightly more due to its rarity and intriguing coloration. Prices typically range from $60 to $120 or more.

13. Pink Axolotl

Photo by fronx on Flickr licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Cropped from original)

Fun Fact: Did you know that the Pink Axolotl is one of the most popular Axolotl morphs?

Pink Axolotls are a unique breed with soft, blush hues and dark, enigmatic eyes. They stand out from their light-shaded cousins, the Golden Albinos, with their pale pink bodies, gills, and black eyes. Axolotls are nocturnal and love meat, hunting for tiny fish, worms, and crustaceans. You can feed them brine shrimp, bloodworms, and specialty axolotl pellets in their tank.

Interestingly, despite their preference for a solitary existence, Pink Axolotls are far from anti-social when it's time to mate. Pink axolotls can cost you around $25-$45, depending on their age, size, specific breeder, and other factors.

14. Firefly Axolotls

Fun Fact: Did you know that the tails of Firefly Axolotl can glow? Lloyd Strohl also originally bred this morph to study limb regeneration.

These morphs were created in a laboratory as part of a study. Through Embryonic Graphing, these morphs developed pale-colored bodies with dark tails. What sets them apart is their Green Fluorescent Protein albino tail. Like “fireflies,” their tails are the only ones that glow bright green under a blacklight.

The Firefly Axolotl glows gently under blue or black lighting, while its GFP Axolotl cousins glow brightly. The Firefly Axolotl eats small invertebrates and burrows during the day. Since Firefly Axolotls can only be created in laboratories, they are expensive. Prices typically range from $100 to $300.

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1

Hoerter, J. D. (1977). Dosage effects of the white (d) and melanoid (m) genes on pigment pattern in the Mexican axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum, Shaw. Developmental Biology.

2

Woodcock, M. R., Vaughn-Wolfe, J., Elias, A. W., Kump, D. K., Kendall, K. D., Timoshevskaya, N., Timoshevskiy, V. A., Perry, D. W., Smith, J. J., Spiewak, J. E., Parichy, D. M., & Voss, S. R. (2017). Identification of Mutant Genes and Introgressed Tiger Salamander DNA in the Laboratory Axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum. Scientific Reports, 7(1).

3

Dean, A. D., & Frost-Mason, S. K. (1995). Effects of Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone on Wild-Type and White Axolotl Neural Crest Cells. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 210(2), 239–245.

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