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Do Axolotls Sleep?

If you have recently set up your dream aquarium, you may have wondered about the habits of the animals in there, and how they behave when you are not around to observe them.

Axolotls are particularly interesting and unusual creatures, and if you have one in your tank, you may have wondered “do axolotls sleep?” on numerous occasions.

It’s hard to imagine these weird amphibians sleeping, but on the other hand, almost all animals do – so how do they manage this?

Sleep is often a challenging thing for creatures that live underwater, and some have had to evolve peculiar strategies for dealing with their need for air at the same time as their need for sleep.

However, axolotls have gills, and although they do also gulp air from the tank’s surface from time to time, this makes things easier for them.

Having both lungs and gills means that they can remain underwater for extended periods, and this allows them to sleep without having to come to the surface constantly to breathe.

Understanding how your axolotl is behaving can help you determine when it is healthy and when something is wrong, and getting to grips with its sleep patterns is an important aspect of this.

If you don’t know how your pet should behave, you may not notice when something is wrong, or worry unnecessarily when everything is fine.

Do Axolotls Sleep?

Yes, axolotls do sleep, although they sleep in an unusual way – they do not have eyelids, so they cannot close their eyes, and this makes it considerably harder to tell when they are awake and when they are asleep than with most animals.

You may stare at your axolotl for hours without being able to tell for sure, although there are a few key signifiers that should help you to figure it out.

When it wants to go to sleep, your axolotl is likely to find a quiet place to hide itself, and it may choose the same spot time after time, especially if this has proved safe in the past.

You should make sure that your axolotl has some plants so that it can stay near the surface, as they often like to rest where they can dart up to grab air if they need to.

Other signs include significantly reduced movement; the axolotl will become very still and quiet.

If you observe a sleeping axolotl, you may notice that its gill movements slow down, to the point that it hardly seems to be breathing – which causes many owners to panic the first few times they observe it.

The axolotl’s color may also become paler when it sleeps, although the change may be difficult to distinguish, especially if your pet has crept into a dark cave to rest. Don’t worry straight away if you notice your axolotl has become suddenly quiet, especially during the day.

Are Axolotls Active At Night?

Technically speaking, axolotls are crepuscular, which means that they are mostly active at dawn and at dusk, rather than actually during the hours of darkness.

You may notice your axolotl swimming around the tank and hunting when you are first waking up, or once the sun has gone down and the evening is passing, and this is perfectly normal.

It will usually sleep during both the day and the night, and save almost all of its activity for the twilight hours.

This is thought to help the axolotl avoid predators such as herons and bigger fish, which tend to be active during the day.

By sleeping throughout the day and hunting at dawn and dusk, the axolotl reduces its risk of becoming dinner, but still has enough light to see and hunt for prey itself – which it would struggle with if it hunted during the night.

In general, your axolotl will sleep for several hours at a time, although this does depend on its health, age, and size. You may sometimes see your axolotl awake during the day or night, but this is fairly rare.

They cannot see in the dark, so it’s unlikely they will ever be very active at night, although they may depend on their other senses to navigate around the tank, as their vision is not great even during the daytime.

Do Axolotls Sleep Upside Down?

No, your axolotl should not sleep upside down; these creatures sleep with their bellies facing the bottom of the tank, and an upside down axolotl may be sick.

Being upside down can signify a few different problems, one of which is not having enough to eat – so make sure that your axolotl is getting sufficient amounts of food.

If your axolotl is sleeping upside down at the bottom of the tank or floating near the surface, you need to take it to a vet as soon as you can, because it could be very ill.

Sometimes, being upside down a lot is a sign of an impaction or other digestive disorder, so take action.

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to tell when an axolotl is sick, but some other common signs to look out for include lethargy during the twilight hours, poor balance, yellow skin, and lack of interest in food being placed in the tank.

If you see any of these things, especially combined with your axolotl sleeping upside down, you will need to ensure that it is seen by a vet as soon as possible.


So, the answer to “do axolotls sleep?” is a firm yes, these curious little amphibians need a reasonable amount of sleep every day, and they tend to get it during both the daylight hours and at night. If your axolotl has gone very still in some plants or on some rocks and it’s not dawn or dusk, it is probably resting, and may be unresponsive for a while (although you should be able to wake it up if you try). Since the axolotl cannot close its eyes, it can be difficult to check for sure that it is asleep, but stillness usually indicates that it is.