Axolotl Popularity Skyrockets, Thanks to Minecraft and TikTok Crazes
There are times when animals are so rarely seen that people deem them unreal. You will often ask questions like, “Do those animals still exist?” or “Isn’t that CGI?” Those animals are often referenced in films, cartoon shows, and games. Minecraft used a particular amphibian as one of its characters, leading to a rise in popularity. Players are now into axolotls because of Minecraft’s Salamander.
Axolotls are exceptionally remarkable animals due to their physical traits. The amphibians are well known for their grin — they always look happy. Axolotls are aquatic salamanders with soft bodies, mostly made of cartilage rather than bones. You can keep them as pets, but you must be knowledgeable about proper pet care. Since it has a soft, delicate physique, it is advisable to only move it with your hands if necessary. A mesh net is much more recommended to avoid body damage.
Since its introduction in the world of Minecraft, the Axolotl has been in demand in pet shops. Kids want to have a real-life salamander.
The craze began in 2021. TikTok and Minecraft were the main contributors to the amphibian’s fame — charming the users with its grinning face. The co-owner of Axolotl Planet shared his thoughts about the ongoing popularity and growth of the aquatic creature. In his email with NPR, Jake Pak said, “I would attribute about 90% of axolotls’ popularity to Minecraft and TikTok, but mostly Minecraft.”
Axolotl Planet is a breeding center and sanctuary for the little amphibians. Jake mentioned that kids visit the sanctuary after playing Minecraft, feeding their curiosity and delighting in the knowledge that the animal exists outside the game. Kids always ask for the blue salamander. But in reality, axolotls can be albino, black, brown, red, orange, or yellow. Interestingly, its genes can be modified, which allows them to glow in UV and black light.
A particular pet shop has been marketing axolotls; after months, its sales increased like never before. The World of Wet Pets in Portland reached a point where they have an axolotl shortage. “And because demand is so high, the value of the doggone little things has gone through the roof,” Eric Rasmussen, the owner of The World of Wet Pets, shared in an interview with NPR on the phone. He also added that the price of axolotls will inevitably increase since they became designer animals. People can request to apply a modified protein on the Axolotl to glow under blue light.
During the interview, Jake Pak also left some advice and disclaimers about breeding axolotls. Apparently, customers from Seattle’s The Fish Store accidentally bred their pets after purchasing a pair of opposite genders. Cory Giess, an employee of The Fish Store, admitted that they had difficulties acquiring the stock of axolotls from breeders. The store could only sell through the customer who unknowingly bred the salamanders.
“Axolotls can lay over 1,000 eggs at a time, and if you do not have the space, time, and knowledge required to care for the babies, then they will most likely all die prematurely or, as we are seeing with New Zealand, creating a crisis of abandoned axolotls,” Jake Pak explained. Moreover, inbreeding can affect offspring, as they might carry lethal recessive genes.
Blue Ridge Reptile Rescue also shared additional knowledge about axolotl breeding, which opposed the recent accidental procreation issues. “Get eggs accidentally, sure, but they require special care for incubation, and you must breed and maintain special food for the hatchlings. No one does this by accident,” the rescue explained in an email sent to NPR.
In line with the recent popularity of the grinning amphibian, experts reminded people that curiosity is not enough to keep it as a pet. There should be an understanding of specific pet care guidelines for an axolotl. Do your research if you want to be able to provide the best home for these interesting and delightful aquatic creatures. They are not just from a game; axolotls are animals entitled to a home that can provide for their needs. If you do not feel like having them anymore, do not release the amphibian to the wild.
“In California, they’re actually illegal to buy or sell. Because if someone gets sick of theirs and they release it, there’s a nonzero possibility that the axolotls can reproduce with local endangered species of salamanders, and that is a really major problem for anyone trying to actually keep those species alive,” Cory Giess explained. It is best to ask for professional help from pet shops, rescue centers, and breeders before returning them to the wild.