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What To Do With A Dead Axolotl!

It can be difficult to decide what to do with a dead axolotl. It’s never easy to decide what to do with a deceased family pet and this can be made all the more challenging with axolotls who tend to play dead.

There are several important things you should look for to determine if your axolotl is just playing or if it’s actually deceased and some equally important things you should do to safely dispose of its remains.

Axolotls play dead as a way to trick predators. Unfortunately, they can also play dead when you’re cleaning their enclosure or if they just happened to get scared by their own reflection.

This leads to some individuals thinking their axolotl has died when it’s really just trying to protect itself.

Disposing of your axolotl properly doesn’t mean flushing it down the toilet. That could potentially introduce dangerous parasites and bacteria to the local environment.

Instead, you should freeze your axolotl for three days to ensure those potential threats have died and then bury it properly. Here’s the rest of what you should know about how to deal with a dead axolotl.

Do Axolotls Play Dead?

It’s very common for axolotls to play dead. This can be a little surprising to new owners of axolotls who aren’t used to the specific type of animal behavior.

However, it’s very common and nothing to be concerned about if your Axolotl has all of a sudden started to play that. Let’s take a look at a few common reasons why axolotls have this behavior.

The first explanation for this behavior is that it’s a defence mechanism. Axolotls play that as a way to deter predators or from attempting to harm them.

Many predators only go after live prey and if their prey appears to already be dead, they leave it alone and go look for something a little more fresh.

Axolotls are a great companion animal, but they still perceive humans as a potential predator. An axolotl can play dead if you’re changing its water, moving its aquarium, or it spots you moving quickly outside of the aquarium.

Essentially, any sudden change that scares the Axolotl will cause it to play dead.

What To Do With A Dead Axolotl!

It’s always a challenging time when a beloved pet passes away. This is just as true for axolotls as it is for other common household pets.

However, there are some specific steps you need to take when your Axolotl dies. These are designed to ensure that potentially invasive pathogens aren’t spread to local wildlife.

Axolotls, including the specific species of Axolotl that you have, might not be indigenous to your local environment. Simply throwing away a deceased axolotl or flushing it down the toilet can spread bacteria, parasites, and other potential hazards to the local wildlife.

In fact, you should never flush any pets down the toilet as this could lead to serious problems for the local ecosystem.

So, what should you do with a dead axolotl? The first thing you should do is place the deceased axolotl in a Ziploc plastic bag and then freeze that axolotl for at least three days. This will ensure that any bacteria or parasites that could be in the Axolotl have died.

You can then bury the axolotl outdoors or bury it in a potted plant to create a memorial plant as a way to celebrate the memory of your axolotl and let it have a second life as a household plant.

How Do I Know My Axolotl Is Definitely Dead?

It’s very common for axolotls to play dead which leads to a lot of confusion for pet owners who aren’t certain if your axolotl is really gone or not.

There are a few ways that you can tell if your axolotl has actually died or if it’s just trying to fool you.

These include the axolotl’s eyes glazing over, the gills losing their colors and shriveling up, and the axolotl being stiff and unresponsive if lifted out of the aquarium.

One of the biggest ways to notice if your axolotl is really dead or not is that playing that is a defence mechanism. This means that your axolotl will start moving again fairly quickly after it stopped playing dead.

An axolotl will only play dead for a short period of time as it’s attempting to trick a predator and then make its escape. If your axolotl is only playing dead, it should be up and moving and just a few seconds or maybe a minute or two.

There are some common signs that can point to your axolotl being seriously ill or deceased. One of the biggest ones is that the axolotl’s eyes will lose their color, turn gray, and glaze over.

The axolotl’s limbs and gills can also lose their color and start to curl inward when the animal dies. If you can pick the axolotl out of the aquarium, and it’s very stiff and not attempting to squirm out of your hand, then it’s a good sign that your axolotl has passed on.

What Does A Dead Axolotl Look Like

It can be hard to spot a dead axolotl if you don’t know what you’re looking for. There are a few sure signs that can help you determine whether or not your axolotl is still alive.

A dead axolotl often turns pale, it’s ribs will become visible, and it’s skills, limbs, and eyes will begin to shrivel.

The biggest external signs for death in an axolotl are the physical changes its body goes through after it becomes deceased.

Since its body is no longer metabolizing nutrients, its skin is going to rapidly lose color and its ribs will become visible.Its gills will also shrink if not disappear entirely. These are signs that your axolotl has passed on.

Your axolotl will also not be responsive to any external stimuli. A dead axolotl will simply float there if you attempt to pick it up or move it.

Axolotls have surprisingly expressive eyes and one of the unfortunate signs of death in an axolotl is those eyes beginning to fade away. If your axolotl was just playing dead, it would still look very healthy.

Do Axolotls Float When They’re Dead?

It’s very uncommon for axolotls to float. Axolotls are typically playful swimmers that like exploring their enclosures and moving around. Axolotls typically only float if they’re playing dead or if they have passed on.

When axolotls play dead, they will float to the top of their enclosure. This is part of a natural defence mechanism that the axolotls use to trick predators.

By floating away as if it had died, the axolotl can make an escape from a would-be predator. This can lead to some confusion as dead axolotls also float.

The big difference here comes down to how long the axolotl floats for. An axolotl will only ever play dead for somewhere between 10 and 40 seconds.

An axolotl that has actually died may float in its enclosure for one to two days before sinking to the bottom. If your axolotl is exhibiting other signs of death that we’ve talked about and it’s floating, there’s a good chance that it has passed away.


It’s never an easy experience when a family pet passes away. Axolotls are wonderful additions to our lives, and it’s a personal tragedy when they reach the end of their lifespan. You can tell when your axolotl has passed on because that axolotl is going to lose its color and shrivel up. A dead axolotl will also float in its enclosure. You should properly dispose of the remains by freezing them for three days and then burying them outside or in a potted memorial plant.