Does your axolotl look swollen?
Are you worried that it isn't feeling well?
Today's post is going to discuss possible causes for this symptom known as bloat, as well as what you can do for it.
So keep reading to learn more!
What is Bloat?
Going off feed is the first sign something in the animal's abdomen may be incurring a problem.
You may notice your axolotl does not eat as much as it normally does...
... Or maybe it stops eating altogether, showing no interest in food.
This is a sure sign of a problem.
If this symptom of lack of appetite is followed by a swollen belly, your axolotl may be experiencing bloat.
The swelling may come on gradually or may appear practically overnight.
Bloat is not a disease itself, it is a symptom of something else that is wrong.
Lack of appetite and bloat are often linked together with a sick axolotl...
... As can difficulty swimming.
Bloat can range from mild to severe.
Sometimes, its just enough so you can tell something is wrong.
Other times the axolotl may become so swollen that it looks like a beach ball with limbs.
This often depends on the cause of the bloat.
Sometimes the axolotl is bloated from fluid retention due to certain diseases, other times its abdomen is expanding to accommodate a foreign object or excess food.
Let's get started!
Top Causes of a Bloated Axolotl
Bloating in and of itself has several causes, and the symptoms can often be identical - making it important to eliminate possible causes to come to the final reason for the bloating.
In some cases, this is just not possible without advanced veterinary techniques...
... But often times the owner is able to deduce the cause for themselves based on process of elimination.
So with that said, here are some possible causes.
If the animal is constipated, it will stop passing stools and may begin to show signs of abdominal swelling.
The causes for this are usually overfeeding or not highly digestible foods.
Sometimes the animal can also have trapped air in its abdomen from the fermenting food, in which case it may be struggling with chronic floating problems in addition to the bloating.
It is typical of a constipated axolotl to float.
Another telltale sign is when the animal is constipated is when it stops passing stools.
The bloat is from internal food blockage and is generally not extreme.
The good news is constipation is treatable.
Fridging can prove very beneficial for an axolotl suffering from constipation.
By reducing stress, slowing down their metabolism, decreasing harmful pathogens and boosting the immune system, it encourages the axolotl to pass the blockage.
The temperature in the fridge should be set to approximately 40F.
Often times the animal will pass its stool in just a few hours of fridging, but may take up to 2 weeks.
The animal should not be fed while it is constipated, as not only will it not likely eat, but if it does it only compounds the problem.
Impaction can happen if the axolotl eats something weird.
Axolotls can attempt to swallow anything that fits in their mouth.
As a result, their belly may bloat.
They may also lose their appetite.
They may attempt to eat anything from rocks to plants to marbles to decor.
If the axolotl is impacted, consulting a vet may be required to get some X-rays and see what the blockage is.
Sometimes the blockage can be too big to pass on its own and may require surgery.
If it is small enough to pass, fridging can also help some impactions.
3. Bacterial or Parasitic Infection
Bacterial infection is extremely dangerous to the axolotl.
Bacterial infection with aeromonas bacteria species can cause inappetence, as well as cause the animal to swell and die very rapidly.
Many times it is accompanied with other symptoms, such as redness of limbs and bleeding sores.
Essentially, the bacteria has invaded the axolotl's body (septicemia) and damaged a vital organ, causing the animal to have fluid imbalance.
By the time this is detected, this condition is often unresponsive to treatment due to internal organ damage.
If caught in time, the proper medications and antibiotics - usually administered via injection - may reverse it.
Parasites such as intestinal worms can also cause the axolotl to swell and die rapidly.
4. Kidney Failure
Causes for kidney failure in axolotls are thought to be possibly due either to underlying disease, genetics or diet.
A veterinarian may use a syringe to withdraw some of the excess fluid and make the axolotl more comfortable...
... But it usually comes back later.
Kidney failure is not treatable.
It is recommended to feed your axolotl good quality foods, as the fats and oils in low quality foods are thought to contribute to increased risk of kidney failure in axolotls, and nutritional imbalances from poorly formulated foods can lead to deficiencies.
5. Short Toe Syndrome
Short toe syndrome is a genetic condition that eventually and inevitably leads to organ failure.
An axolotl with this condition looks similar to a dwarf axolotl, but its toes are short and over time it develops swelling throughout its entire body.
It may also develop hemorrhaging.
This is sadly an untreatable condition, and it is recommended that animals affected with this condition should be humanely euthanized.
6. Eggy Female
As female axolotls produce eggs in their bodies, this can result in a "bloated" appearance.
However, this is different from true bloat caused by a health issue.
Usually with eggy female axolotls, the lower abdomen will be the affected area, whereas bloating from illness can cause the torso and neck (and in some cases, the entire body with limbs) to swell.
Eggy females have more of a teardrop shape, which becomes more pronounced at ovulation and when the animal is close to laying eggs.
They are wider than males and often longer as well.
After mating, the female will shrink down quite a bit.
7. Thyroid Disorder
The thyroid of the axolotl helps regulate their fluid balance.
If it is not properly functioning, it can lead to water retention and buildup of fluid, resulting in bloat.
It is recommended to consult a veterinarian if you suspect your axolotl suffers from a thyroid disorder.
Figuring out the cause of a bloated axolotl - and what to do about it - can be a tricky task.
The good news is many times, bloating is curable and preventable.
If your animal is unwell or is not responding to treatment at home, consulting a veterinarian is often a good place to start.
I hope this post helped to point you into some possible directions to why your axolotl may be having issues with bloating.
Thanks for reading!