Axolotl legal information

Axolotls Legal & Illegal USA States: The Complete List

Axolotls Legal & Illegal USA States: The Complete List

As a United States citizen, where can you keep axolotls and remain a good, law-abiding citizen?

Surprisingly, not all states allow axolotls to be imported.

So stay tuned to learn where axolotls are legal - or illegal.

Legal States:

As of the time of this post, axolotls are illegal in the majority of the United States.

Virginia lifted the ban on axolotls on August 1 of 2021.

Hopefully more states will follow suit :)

Illegal States:

Sadly, not all areas are legal to own axolotls in.

Let's look at these places below:


Possession of axolotls in the state of CA is a crime.

There are also quite a few other pets California bans as well.

Along with ferrets, hedgehogs... and these amphibians.

Axolotls (and all other mole salamander species, by the way) have been made illegal in California due to concern over the potential threat an axolotl might pose to native wildlife species if it were to be released.

Concerns are focused primarily around the species of the California tiger salamander Ambystoma californiense and the Eastern tiger sal Ambystoma tigrinum.

It is theorized that they could either out compete these sals for resources such as food and breeding grounds, or they could unintentionally hybridize.


Axolotls have been domesticated in captivity for a long time.

Efforts to hybridize tiger salamanders naturally with axolotls have proved EXTREMELY difficult even by some of the most experienced breeders.

To put it into perspective - far more difficult even than hybridization with Andersoni salamanders.

I know of only one case where any eggs were obtained in such a cross after many attempts to hybridize, and met with an infertility rate of almost 100%. The 3 survivors did not survive to the juvenile stage.

One explanation for this has been offered:

They aren't very genetically compatible.

After all, they are considered widely to not be the same genetically as they once were.

Now, notice I said naturally hybridized.

Obviously genes from the tiger sal have been introduced into the axolotl's captive gene pool, somehow.

I could be wrong, but my best guess is it was through the efforts of scientists rather than hobbyist breeders.

As far as outcompeting goes...

Is it possible? Maybe.

We wouldn't know without controlled experimentation.

But maybe it could work the other way, with the cross allowing for something called hybrid vigor.

That is, assuming the two could naturally cross and the babies survive to adulthood.

Other Illegal States

Other states where axolotls are illegal include:

  • New Jersey
  • Maine
  • District of Columbia

Fines Imposed for Illegal Transport of Axolotls

We have been asked a number of times by those yearning to own axolotls if we will ship to their state where axolotls are not legal.

As much as we wish we could ship to every state in the country, we won't break US Federal law to do so.

Besides the fact that hefty fines are imposed for those who would take the risk, it really isn't in the animal's best interest.

Severely limited access to local veterinary care could jeopardize their safety in the event of illness.

If the box is confiscated, it could mean termination of the animal's life!

Let this be a warning to all who would try to go against this legislation and try to smuggle axolotls into illegal states.

States that Require Permits/Licensing

Currently, Fantaxies does not ship to NM or HI due to the slowdown this exchange of paperwork would introduce into our order fulfillment process.

Hopefully things will change in the future!

New Mexico

Those who wish to import axolotls into their state must have an import permit.

This import permit usually requires the seller to fill out the form in order for the NM resident to legally obtain this species.

Quite a bit of licensing information must be supplied on the part of the seller, including:

  • Health Certificate from an Accredited Veterinarian
  • Rearing Facility Inspection certificate of health from an Accredited Veterinarian
  • USDA APHIS Class A, B or C License
  • Federal USFWS Permit
  • Local City/County Pet License


Shipments of axolotls imported to Hawaii are subject to inspection.

The person who is importing them must show valid paperwork - a valid permit with the Department of Agriculture.

However, transport of axolotls within the state is allowed once the animals have been legally imported.

Fines for breaking laws here can include penalties of up to $500,000 and 3 years in prison!


Knowing the rules is important when it comes to importing axolotls to your area.

Hopefully this post helped clear up some of the confusion as to where it is fine to keep these amazing pets.

Thanks for reading!

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