Axolotls have seen an absolutely massive increase in popularity over the last five years or so with demand increased so much that the vast majority of countries have made it illegal to sell them unless you are an officially licensed breeder. Anyone caught taking wild axolotls from their natural habitat can face jail time with a number of poachers already having been given prison time for trying to capture wild axolotls.
Although we see a large number of questions based around axolotls and how best to care for them, for today’s article, we are going to be taking a look at the eight different axolotl colors. We always see people reaching out and asking a number of questions based on the color of their axolotl and asking if it means anything special and if it is rare after hearing how much some of the rarer axolotls can sell for.
There are the five main color types (wild, white albino, golden albino, leucistic, and Melanoid) that are very common and easy to source. There are then the four rarer variants that are based around unique colors, patterns or mutations but still relatively easy to source provided you are willing to spend around double the price of the main color types. Then there are the 3 extremely rare natural axolotl colors that can sell for thousands of dollars followed by a unique man-made creation through embryonic graphing with only around ten ever being created with the final enigma axolotl with only one ever having been recorded to date.
Due to their being many different types of axolotl with each having their own pigmentation causing them to have their own unique looks, it’s not surprising that we see so many people reaching out and asking for assistance on working out the type of axolotl that they have or want. All variants of axolotl are created by the three different chromatophores (Melanophores, Xanthophores, and Iridophores) in them that dictate their pigment cells color but the rare the color or pattern the higher the price tag.
We have added an estimated price tag for each variant of axolotl as we work our way through the list to try and help offer a guideline on what you should be paying for each of the colors. That said though, they are only a guideline and are based around what reputable breeder tends to charge for each of the colors at the time of writing. In the future things may change and we expect the price tag for the rarer colors to increase over time as more people start to collect them.
The Wild Type Axolotl
First up on our list we have the most common pigment cells coloring of axolotls, the wild type. This is the most commonly found axolotl and made up the vast majority of the population until selective breeding came into play to try and increase the numbers of the other colors of pigment cells amongst the species. Due to being such a popular shade, you can usually source these for between $10 and $30 with ease with breeders often having plenty of them in stock. The axolotl variant gets its name, “the wild type” from the fact that it is without a doubt the most common axolotl found in the wild by far.
This variant tends to look like it had a very dark pigment for most of its body with shiny golden specks or speckled black spots depending on the lighting. The body of this variant of axolotl will usually be green, brown, or black similar to the melanoid but the melanoid lacks the blackish golden specs due to the iridophores pigment cells found in the wild axolotls.
The majority of these axolotls will slowly turn darker as they get older making it harder to see their spots the older they get making them look extremely similar to a melanoid. Once old enough, the only reliable way to tell the difference between the two it so looks for the shiny golden ring in the eyes that the melanoid lacks.
The Leucistic Axolotls
The leucistic axolotl or Lucy for short is probably the next most common color variant of axolotls and is also very easy to source from breeders if you want a predominantly pink axolotl that many tend to mistake for white. They generally have a light pink body and head with dark pink gills and black eyes that make them stand out thankfully as many people new to axolotls may think that Lucies are actually one of the variants of the albino axolotls but they are not.
No matter how white the body and head look, if the eyes are black, you are looking at a leucistic axolotl not an albino. Due to being so common, you can usually expect to spend between $10 and $30 for a Lucy with some going as high as $50 depending on the circumstances.
The White Albino Axolotl
Next up we have the white albino axolotl that is very popular yet relatively easy to source compared to the first two variants on our list. This variant of axolotl has an all-white body and head and although it can have red eyes, it is much more common for its eyes to be transparent giving a white look to them. As we mentioned above, if it has black eyes then it is a Lucy and not a white albino.
Although the majority of breeders will likely always have this barian of axolotl in stock and ready to ship, they are rarer than the two above and usually retail from $20 up to around $50 depending on shipping distance. Albino axolotls have absolutely no black on them due to their albino pigmentation and is one of the first variants people opt for if they decided to start collecting the rarer axolotl colors.
The Golden Albino Axolotl
Next up, we have a variant of the white albino, with a slight genetic alteration to it, the golden albino axolotl. As the name suggests, this variant of axolotl has a slight golden shine to its body and head often with shiny patches that are easier to see with some paler areas that look to be pure white. The golden albino also has no black on them at all due to being an albino variant with their eyes usually being red but sometimes being transparent and looking white.
Depending on the age of the golden albino axolotl, it may look just like a regular white axolotl until its shiny pigments come through and give it the unique gold look. Depending on the breeder, you can usually pick up a golden albino for $20 to $50 but they are slightly harder to find than their white cousins due to being slightly rarer.
The Melanoid Axolotl
The melanoid variation of the axolotl is very similar to the wild one we covered above and as we said then, the only real difference between the two variations is that a younger wild will tend to have specks along its body that fade as it gets older. The melanoid doesn’t have the golden rings around its eyes either that offers you a quick and easy way to tell them apart once a wild is at an age where its specks have faded.
It is common for the melanoid axolotl to be mistaken for a wild type, even by people who already own axolotls but they are usually all black with the possibility of being absolute pitch black. You can expect to spend anywhere from $20 to $50 for a melanoid with some of the total pitch black melanoid axolotl going for up to $70 as these are rarer to find. Outside of the pitch-black variants the majority of breeders should be able to supply you with this variant of axolotl with relative ease.
The Dirty Leucistic Axolotl
Next up and the last of the more common axolotls is the dirty leucistic or the dirty Lucy. These essentially have the same colors and pigmentation of the regular Lucies with a pink body and black eyes but the term “dirty” is added on as they have black speckles around their head giving them a more unique looking appearance. This does make the variant rarer with breeders usually looking to charge $40 to $70 but in our opinion, a dirty Lucy is not worth the additional money unless it is around eighteen months old or so as the black spots can fade with age turning it into a regular Lucy.
The Copper Albino Axolotl
Moving on to our first fully-fledged rare axolotl we have the copper albino that as you may have guessed it, is another albino variant of the axolotl but unlike its white or golden cousins, this variant takes on a copper look to its body and head. Within the copper albino axolotl variant, there are four additional variants of the species too. These are in order of rarety regular copper, light copper, het copper, and melanoid copper with the latter being extremely hard to source as most breeders keep them for selective breeding to make the melanoid copper variant population grow.
A regular copper axolotl will tent to retail for between $80 and $100 with the rarer versions being as much as double this. Unlike their other albino cousins, the copper albino is not actually a true albino as it can have black eyes with its shiny pigments. Thankfully though, the copper skin is easy to see so it is easy to differentiate from a Lucy without having any trouble.
The Green Fluorescent Protein Axolotl
Next up we have the green fluorescent protein variant of axolotl that is probably the most sought after axolotl in the rare category due to it being able to glow in the dark. The GFP axolotls are not a naturally occurring variant and are the first of the man-made variants on our list. The GFPs were created by adding green fluorescent proteins to the more common axolotl variants in a bid to discover treatments for various illnesses in humans.
When placed under a black light or UV light, a GFP axolotl will glow lime green but we would not recommend that any of our readers leave the animal in this condition for long as they tend to get anxious under these lights. Although you may end up getting a GFP that looks like a common variant, its glow in the dark abilities bump the price tag up to between $80 and $100 minimum depending on breeder but if the base variant is rare then the price tag can sky rocket.
The Piebald Axolotl
Although some people do class a dirty Lucy as a Piebald axolotl, they are actually different pattern types of a regular Lucy. The dirty Lucy only has the black markings on its head whereas a Piebald axolotl will have them along its body and tail too. This pattern is much rarer than a regular dirty Lucy and the prices for a Piebald axolotl can vary greatly depending on the actual pattern. Again though, just like the dirty Lucy, we would not recommend that our readers purchase a Piebald axolotl unless it is old as the unique marking can often fade with age leaving you with a regular Lucy that was very expensive.
The Mosaic Axolotl
We are now moving into the first of our super rare axolotl with the mosaic variant of the species. The mosaics are actually freaks of nature and with some people speculating that each axolotl born has a minimum of 1/7000 chance to be born with the mosaic coloration. This rare occurrence is down to two DNA cells forming into one so the axolotl displays phenotypes of both cells coming from both parents in on body resulting in some beautiful patterns.
As the mosaic variant of the axolotl can’t be specifically bread for due to the freak occurrence that creates it, they can come with a price tag ranging from $500 to $1000 but if the pattern is particularly special, it is not uncommon for them to sell for over $1000. These are very rare axolotls and offer some beautiful color and pattern combinations that are rarely seen making them one of the truly unique morphs for the species.
The Chimera Axolotl
Next up we have what is probably the rarest axolotl that the vast majority of people will ever get to add in their collection but even then, they can be extremely pricey with the highest recorded sale of a chimera axolotl being over $2000. Again, this variant of the species relies on fluke occurrence in nature just to be born, never mind survive and this is why collectors are willing to spend so much money on them.
The chimera variant of the species is produced when two eggs infuse together in the embryo to create a truly unique axolotl. When born the animal takes on half of the characteristics of one egg and half of the characteristics of the other meaning that you can have a half while albino half jet black melanoid axolotl with a split right down the middle. This makes them truly unique to look at but unfortunately, there is a 1 in 10,000 chance that a chimera will be born and then a 1 in 100,000 chance that it will survive more than a few days but those that do have a premium price tag that we expect to increase due to its unique axolotl looks.
The Silver Dalmatian Axolotl
The silver dalmation axolotl morph is the second rarest naturally occurring morph of the species and they are extremely hard to source. We have seen offers of $4000 being made on public forums to purchase them with the actual sale price usually not being confirmed as more and more collectors want to add a silver dalmation axolotl to their collection. Unfortunately, due to being so rare and so expensive, it seems like it will take many years before a breeder is able to set up a selective breeding program to try and make this truly beautiful axolotl variant more common. Although the main body of the axolotl is silver, it is covered in dark black spots similar to a dalmation dog and thus the name of the variant.
Although some people have been known to post pictures of axolotls that fit the description of a silver dalmation, many tend to be just a melanoid with a unique pattern but some people have taken to classing these as a silver dalmation. Some in the axolotl owning community have started to think that the silver dalmations are simply an ultra rare pattern of the melanoid but more research will have to be carried out to be sure.
The FireFly Axolotl
Next up we have the second and final man-made axolotl entry on our list, the firefly that was created by Lloyd Strohl II via embryonic graphing as a hobby and has resulted in one of the most beautiful looking axolotl variants going. Although the actual colours can change depending on the axolotl, they tend to have a head and body of one colour and a tail of another. On top of this, sometimes they can have a jet black body with a white tail with the tail also having GFP in it to make the tail glow under UV or black light too. Although we have seen people say that they have made undisclosed offers for these, to our knowledge, none have ever been sold and only around ten of them have been created to date.
The Enigma Axolotl
The final axolotl on our list is the Enigma and very little is known about this variant of the species as there has only ever been one single recording of this morph. The engima axolotl is similar to a Piebald in the sense that its head, body , and tail are all one colour while it has another colour along its body in a pattern but rather than a pink body with black markings like a Piebald, the Engima has a black body with green markings making it look truly unique and really is one of a kind.
What Is The Rarest Type Of Axolotl?
We have gone through the list of different axolotls in order of most common to least common so the enigma is the rarest type of acolotl and is also a naturally occurring morph too rather than being man made. The next rarest naturally occurring morph is the silver dalmation but again, these are so rare that it is extremley rare that most people will even get to see one never mind own one. Most people who do collect axolotls tend to accept that the rarest axolotl they will ever see, never mind own is either a mosaic or a chimera.
Do Axolotls Glow In The Dark?
No, axolotls do not glow in the dark, we often see this question asked due to the GFP axolotls but even then they do not glow in the dark. This type of axolotl will only glow when under a black light or uv light and even then, it can distress the axolotl so should only ever be done for a few seconds at a time rather than being left in a tank with a permanent UV light or blacklight on them to make them glow.
Can Axolotls Be Blue?
No, although some melanoid axolotl can look slightly blue, they are actually a shade of grey and even then, their skin tends to get darker as they age making the blue look fade with time. This is why we did not include them in our list as most breeders will not sell this type of axolotl as to our knowledge, none have ever made it to adulthood and kept their slightly blue look and have all ended up with a dark skin.
Can Axolotls Be Red?
No, this is another thing that we see asked on a regular basis but a healthy axolotl can not be red, if you axolotl looks red then there is a high chance that it has septicemia and you should seek assistance from your local veterinarian as soon as possible. Your axolotl will likely require anti-biotics and need to be quarantine away from any other animals in its tank until you are given further advice from your vet.
What Is An RLG Axolotl?
We have noticed more and more people reaching out and asking what an RLG axolotl is and this is not a specific morph of the species but something used to describe really long gills (RLG) in an axolotl. Some breeders have taken to try and selectively breed this trait into the axolotls that they sell and the term is slowly becoming more and more popular as time goes on.
Do Axolotls Change Colour?
Yes, axolotls will often naturally change colour as they get older in the sense that their skin will usually darken. Axolotls can not change their colour in the sense that they were once a white albino and decide to change to a jet black melanoid. We have seen this explained very badly online a few times leading to a large amount of conduction amongst the axolotl owning community with many people thinking axolotls can just change their pigmentation as they wish.