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Are Axolotls Smart?

With the increasing interest in keeping axolotls as pets, a key question many people have is whether these cute salamanders are smart or not.

Given the fact that the smartness of a pet partly determines its ability to bond with the owner, this is a valid concern.

This article tackles some of the key aspects of axolotl smartness. Prospective and new axolotl owners will know the behaviors to expect from their pets with regards to their intellectual ability.

Are Axolotls Smart?

Salamanders, like most amphibians, may not be the most highly developed reptiles, but they are definitely smarter than fish.

Being fragile and physically delicate, axolotls in particular, don’t hunt. They sit strategically in specific locations and wait for prey to swim by. 

Whether this is a measure of their smartness or not, what is clear is the axolotl’s survival instinct given its physical limitations.

Ability to survive in such circumstances is a good indication of axolotl smartness.

two axolotls looking at each other

Can Axolotls Recognize Their Owners?

A number of owners swear that their pets can recognise and react to their presence. Many others believe that due to their poor eyesight, axolotls may not know how to differentiate human beings.

Nevertheless, what is clear is that they are smart and can quickly learn from the activities ongoing around their aquarium.

For instance, when you feed them the first time, they may not really think much about it, but will obviously be grateful for being fed.

However, when you maintain a feeding routine, they will associate human presence near the tank with their feeding. 

When they are hand-fed, they will gradually start to follow your finger whenever you dip your hands into the water, which is another sign of smartness.

Also read: Do Axolotl Like Humans?

Can Axolotls Recognize Their Food?

With their poor vision, axolotls depend a lot on their senses to recognize food, and this involves meticulous use of brain power.

In addition, their physical limitations compromise hunting, and are therefore quick to snap at anything that comes close to them.

Their sense of smell is also strong, and they use it to locate food, sniffing around in their vicinity until they chance on something edible.

two axolotls are living together

Can Axolotls Recognize Their Predators?

Yes. Axolotls are perfectly capable of profiling potential predators, and this is an interesting quality because they also prey on each other

In the wild, some of their most feared predators include storks, carps, herons and even humans.

To keep safe, axolotls mostly stay close to the bottom of lakes during the day and actively come near the surface at night.

When domesticated in an aquarium, the axolotl darts pretty fast across the water when sensing a predator. 

Since they do not have complex, physical defense mechanisms,they rely on their speed and smartness to sense danger and make it out in good time.

Can Axolotls Do Any Tricks?

Unfortunately, axolotls are not known to do many tricks. It is highly likely that your pet’s playfulness will appear to be nothing more than expected behavior in an aquarium.

Swimming around in the tank and rising to the surface of the water may well be their idea of tricks.

Nevertheless, they may also try to engage with you by swimming towards your direction when near the tank, swimming near your fingers if you dip them in the water, or nibbling them during feeding times. 

As has been already intimated, these actions are not close to what would be considered to be pet tricks.

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Some Thought

Each animal has its own special intelligence, and this is usually an element of adaptation to its specific environment.

For axolotls, recognition of their owners, especially based on the fondness that grows during feeding times, is a strong element of smartness. 

This is because they are able to link their owner’s presence to provision of food, and as a result, they respond positively to subsequent visits near their tanks.

Moreover, given the fact that they are not physically strong or visually powerful, they rely on their senses to get their food and to stay safe from predators.

This is another critical aspect of smartness, especially because intensive use of an organism’s senses is connected to their brain.

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