Axolotls are one of the most versatile salamanders that are unique in their colors with cute little limbs. The different axolotl colors in the wild can make you wonder how amazing this species is.
Due to a variety of pigments, axolotls are available in various color morphs. The most popular types are the wild and albino morphs. Besides, there are also other unique color variants like yellow, copper, lavender, etc. And each type possesses unique attributes.
Different Types of Axolotl Colors
Have you ever thought of the different types of axolotl species you can find in the world?
The answer is many. Their wide variety of body colors is responsible for the emergence of so many types. And this large number of color morphs makes them different from any other species of salamanders.
In the wild, you can get plenty of colors like brown ones, tanned ones with golden specks all over, and many more. Also, some have a slight greenish undertone. Though wild variants are heading towards extinction, too many color morphs make this species enriched with variety.
Besides, lab experiments are another responsible cause behind the emergence of such unique color varieties. Researchers perform intelligent genetic variations on these creatures, which gives birth to many color morphs.
Here are the various types of axolotls classified based on their colors, have a look.
1. Black-Brown Axolotl
Wild axolotls possess a pretty color combination of brown, black, and green with speckles of a shiny gold pigment called iridophore. These variants usually have dark eyes with a shiny gold hue around its pupil.
In addition, their gills boast a purplish or greyish shade that leads to an exotic appearance.
To keep wild ones in captivity, you need to maintain a secure aquatic environment in your tank that closely resembles their natural habitat.
Now, coming to their diet, they eat various types of foods. In the wild, they feed on small fish, insects, and worms.
White albino axolotls are specific for their white or pink body color with the combination of clear reddish eyes. In addition, their bright red gills add a touch of vibrancy to their look.
Besides, they do not develop any freckles or pigmentation in their body. Nevertheless, the tips of their fingers tend to have a dirty hue when they are on their way to sexual maturity.
They usually come in two forms. One is known as the white, and the other one is called the xanthic variant.
Melanoid or black axolotls look pretty similar to the darker wild ones. But they possess an increased number of melanophores or dark pigmentation.
What makes them different from the wild ones is their lack of shine or flecks throughout their body. Instead, they come in a solid black tone.
Golden albino axolotls have a very bright shade over its body. So, if you are thinking of adding some exotic shade to your tank, then you can go for this one.
These have a golden yellow body with shiny patches. As they lack melanophores, instead retain xanthophores, it gives them a golden pigmentation.
Moreover, their peach-colored gills and clear eyes make them look more like fish with limbs. They do not possess black eyes as they are a type of albinism.
Copper axolotls are widely found in the United States, Australia, and Germany. They are basically a less extreme variety of albinos.
They have a light brown shade with pink and dark brown spots all over the body, rendering them a pretty copper hue.
These do not have any black pigment or melanophores.
Besides, they come with red-tinted eyes, which renders them a lovely look.
6. GFP Axolotl
It is an artificially created axolotl morph that possesses a unique color because of GFP genes. It is a genetically modified protein (Green Fluorescent Protein) in their DNA, initially introduced in a lab setting.
It was originally used for cancer and regeneration-related research. But the introduction of this protein into axolotl’s genes makes them glow vibrantly green under blue light or UV lights.
The lesser skin pigments they have, these genes will make them glow more.
As humans created it for research purposes, any of these salamanders can be turned into a GFP one. But the ones containing GPF genes are considered unique morphs, and they are readily available anywhere.
These axolotl have a unique pink and white body color with dark navy blue or black eyes. They may develop freckles based on their environment and genetics.
But the ones having a translucent white body with shiny gold flecks are rare to find among salamanders.
They are seldom found in the wild as they are quite vulnerable to predators. However, they can be commonly seen in captivity with their beautiful appearance.
Well, this species has a close resemblance to the albinos. But unlike albinos, they do not have red eyes.
The leucism in them is caused due to a specific type of mutation, which results in the generation of lesser melanocytes in their skin.
Piebald axolotls possess a white body with black eyes, red gills, and dark green, black or grey symmetrical patches all over its face and back.
Sometimes, you can even spot this marking on its sides and legs; however, it is rare. The piebald gene present in these is a rare heritable variation.
This species is a specific type of leucistic morph. There is a concentrated range of melanophores on their backs and heads. And this mainly happens due to the movement of certain cells during the early development of the egg. They are known as neural crest cells.
Lavender axolotls are one of the specific kinds, which come with a light and purplish hue on their body.
There are also grey spots all over their body that renders them a silvery touch. In addition, their greyish red gills and a combination of black eyes make their appearance look even better.
A few lavender species also tend to acquire a grey or green color as they age, though that’s a rare case.
There is also a breed called lavender melanoid hybrid, which comes with a color variation of dark purple and no spots. But this particular hybrid species is quite rare to find.
10. Mosaic Axolotl
Mosaic axolotl possess a pretty combination of white, black, and golden flecks.
Sometimes, they have a stripe red and purple tone over their gills. However, what makes them more unique is their eyes.
Their mosaic tone gets a fine unique touch with their multi-colored eyes.
Most of the mosaics are derived from albino and melanistic parents. These are formed due to the combination of two junction DNA cells.
Thus, most mosaics are infertile and cannot be bred. Also, they are pretty rare to find and are not usually sold in the commercial market.
11. Chimera Axolotl
Chimeras are pretty rare. Well, there is a debate on whether they should be classified as a morph or not due to their highly rare presence.
But what makes them unique is that they possess one color on one half of their body and a different color on the other half. There is a split through the middle that divides them into right and left halves.
Chimera Axolotl is mostly half albino and half wild type. They are usually formed when two eggs get combined into one.
Most of the time, they do not even hatch as the two eggs fail to fuse properly. Besides, they can’t be bred selectively. They are just a kind of developmental accident and not the result of genetics.
The enigma morph of axolotl comes with a dark grey shade and a white belly and limbs. They possess pale red gills and golden eyes.
There is also a beautiful overtone of golden patches on their body that appear green from some angles. Well, these species were first discovered in the United States.
It is basically a wild type that has a higher number of iridophores.
13. Firefly Axolotl
Like the GFP ones, firefly Axolotl variants are also an artificial color morph developed by Lloyd Strohl.
It was created in a laboratory, and that’s why they are rare to find. They are darkly colored with fluorescent green protein albino tails.
The rear end of their body glows under the blacklight, which makes them have the very name “firefly.”
14. Speckled Leucistic Axolotl
The speckled leucistic axolotl is an outcome of a specific type of mutation.
Although these variants have a white body color like normal leucistic morphs, they come with darker green, black or brown speckles all over their head, back, and tails.
The amount of speckles on their body is not extreme, but it is significant enough to render them a unique look.
Often, they can appear identical to leucistic axolotls and develop speckles later. But with the maturation of their pigment cells, their coloration and freckle pattern tends to change.
Axolotl Morphs Explained
The color variation of axolotls is highly dependent on their pigment cells, which are known as chromatophores.
The following are the cells, which are responsible for these various color variations.
- Melanophores: It contains eumelanin and a black-brown pigment.
- Iridophores: This cell is responsible for a shiny iridescence as it includes crystallized purines.
- Xanthophores: It contains carotenoids and pteridines that render a yellowish and reddish tone.
Every pigment cell or chromatophore contains 14 pairs of chromosomes derived from each parent. It results in a clever crossover activity, which ultimately creates different color variations.
The variety is simply exotic and amazing. While some axolotl color morphs are very easy to find in their specific habitats, some are too rare to find.
Nevertheless, whether it is the experimentation done on them in labs or the magic of pigmentation in their skin, it makes the color palette quite exciting.
So, if you are thinking of buying axolotls for your tank, you can simply ask your hobbyist to show you some color variants. But keep in mind whether it is legal in your area to keep a particular color morph captive or not.