How Long Can a Axolotl Live Out Of Water?

axolotl drying up

Axolotls belong to the salamander family; most salamanders are born in water. Still, they do not remain in the water as they are of three types, namely terrestrial, aquatic, and semi-aquatic axolotls belonging to the aquatic family of salamanders, which makes them unable to stay out of water.

They can only survive living out of water for at least one hour if the weather is favorable, as they do not have well-developed lungs or skin to withstand the harsh weather conditions outside the water.

Their gills, limbs, skins, and lungs can only enable them to survive in the water as they are not well developed to survive on land, and the fact remains that your axolotls will always be in danger if it is out of water for more than 15 minutes under the harsh weather condition.

Why Can’t My Axolotls Breathe On Land?

Your axolotls cannot breathe on land as they  have different modes of breathing that are only effective in the water, and their breathing mode include,

1. Gill Respiration

The gills are used to absorb a great volume of oxygen in the water, and they can remove impurities. Besides, the gills are beautiful and feathery, and they can regenerate their gills but cannot do this when they are on land or removed from a water source.

2. Cutaneous Respiration

Axolotls’ ability to breathe with their skin is called cutaneous respiration, which enables them to diffuse oxygen into their blood vessels as their skin is thin and soft to allow gas to pass through.

They can also do this on land but only diffuse a low amount of oxygen for a few minutes before they get stressed out.

3. Buccal Respiration

Your pet can breathe effectively with its cheeks or mouth when in the water and for a limited time in a moist environment outside the water.

They use their buccopharyngeal membrane located at the back of their throat to breathe and then flap their skin on the throat part to allow water to pass through and then absorb oxygen through the membrane.

4. Pulmonary Respiration

Axolotls hardly use their lungs for breathing inside the water as there are enough organs available for them to use for respiration in the water, and they only use them when they are faced with breathing difficulty in the water, especially when they have alteration in the water parameters.

However, they also try to take in oxygen with their lungs when out of the water, but they are faced with danger as they can only do that for a limited time due to their underdeveloped small sacs with folded pockets called lungs.

Can My Axolotls Walk On Land?

Yes, but very slow and for a limited time. That limited time is just 5 minutes as their limbs are structured for walking in the water, not on the land.

Can I Hold Axolotls In My Hands?

Yes. It would be best if you only held your pet in your hand when you want to have a water change or you want to observe its body part, but it should be done in under 3 minutes as you could put your pets in danger as they can only survive out of water for 15 minutes under dry condition.

Can My Axolotls Jump Out Of Water?

Yes, It is possible. Your pet can jump out of the tank if the water temperature is hot, there is an alteration in the water’s pH level, or the tank lid is not well closed.

However, some axolotls lose their lives during the jump process as they land hard on the floor with their soft sensitive body or get eaten by predatory pets once they land on the floor.

What Happens If My Axolotls Stay Out Of Water For Too Long?

Axolotls will get dehydrated when they are out of the water, and their limbs and organ could get deformed when out of the water as axolotls’ limbs do little work when in the water as your pet swims mostly and rarely uses the limbs for locomotion and will have to use it mainly for locomotion when out of the water.

Dehydrated axolotls are prone to diseases and infections such as respiratory diseases and skin and bacteria infections. Any sick axolotl out of the water has a higher chance of dying than one in the water.

The slimy coat that protects axolotls from danger dries up when it is out of the water; it also happens if you handle your pet carelessly, exposing them to predators or diseases of any type.

These cute creatures get stressed when out of the water; they become fearful, knowing that they can be preyed upon anytime, and find it difficult to eat, causing their immune system to weaken.

How Can I Care For My Dehydrated Axolotl?

Your pet jumping out of the water is inevitable if your aquarium tank does not have a  lid though it is wrong to use an uncovered tank for housing your pet.

  • Once you notice your pet is out of the water, please return it to the tank immediately but gently, then increase the oxygen level in the water using water pumps.
  • Quickly check the water parameters, the most common reason your pet will leave its tank.
  • Adjust the water parameters to your pet’s ideal water condition, and always check regularly to avoid the recurrence of the incident.
  • Get a lid for your pet’s tank.


The body of axolotls is designed to survive in the water, and any alteration to that will put the creature in great danger as they are very sensitive and need great care. Vets recommend a tank with a lid for axolotls housing and always advise axolotls keepers not to be far from their pets.

Written by Justin Michaels