Are Axolotls Illegal? (A Complete Guide)

So, you’re in a dilemma to choose the perfect place to get your precious axolotl; Hold up!

Because if wanting a cute pet was a crime; you’d be surely locked up!

That’s right. 

Axolotls are illegal to keep as pets in various parts of the world. Therefore, if you want to keep one, check with your country’s or state’s laws first, and then decide!

Today’s post is all about answering the question: Are Axolotls Illegal in your state or province?

Before diving into the states that restrict the ownership of axolotls, let’s first discuss why axolotls are illegal in the first place.

Axolotls are critically endangered species

Wild axolotls are listed as endangered species on the IUNC conservation index. That means that their numbers are increasingly declining and they might get completely extinct in the coming few years.

Therefore, even in their native land, i.e., Mexico, wild Axololtls are illegal to keep as pets. If you want to raise an axolotl, it’s best to get it from a reputable breeder.

They are Detrimental Animals

In some provinces of Canada, the ownership of axolotls is completely banned. Not because they are endangered but because they are detrimental animals.

The reason they are referred to as detrimental is they are inept to travel between bodies of water like other amphibians. Therefore, they are usually trapped and unable to recover their numbers in the wild.

Also, despite being amphibians, they strictly remain underwater. Thus, rely on water for their survival and reproduction.

The Ban on Ambystoma Species

If you’re thinking that the banning laws only imply axolotls, think again!

These laws don’t only ban axolotls, but all species from the genus Ambystoma for their own good, including tiger salamanders and axolotls.

Carl Zimmer says, “Scientists hope the ban will help prevent a devastating outbreak from driving native salamander species extinct.”

Environmental Impact on Native Salamander Species

The biggest reason why axolotls are banned in some countries is that they have become a “trendy pet” everyone wants to own!

Scientists believe that fewer than 1200 axolotls exist in the wild.

The greater threat to these native species is habitat loss and excessive pollution in the lakes of Mexico. This whole environmental damage weakens the juvenile axolotls, making them prone to diseases.

Also, at least ten non-native fish invasive species of fish have been introduced into Lake Xochimilco. These fish compete with axolotls for food and survival.

In all these crises, if more axolotls get loose and outcompete with the wild species, it poses a serious threat to the environment.

Are Axolotls Legal in Canada?

Axolotls are legal to own in most parts of Canada (video source from The Canadian Press). And since we’re talking about Canada, we will go with the majority. However, exceptions exist. 

Few provinces of Canada have completely banned the ownership of axolotls such as New Brunswick, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. 

Whereas, in Manitoba, axolotls are only illegal to keep in Canada’s seventh-largest city, Winnipeg, and the rest of the province allows Axolotls as exotic pets.

In Nova Scotia, a special permit is required to keep pet Axolotls from the Department of land and forestry.

Can you Import & Export Them as Pets in & out of Canada?

The answer is a resounding yes!

However, you’ll need a permit to travel your exotic pet for import and export purposes in and out of Canada. Usually, a CITES  license is required which comes at a hefty price. But this license allows the import and export of axolotls in and out of Canada smoothly.

Nevertheless, you should always check with the country’s laws before planning to travel with your exotic pet to avoid problems.

Why are They Illegal in some Provinces of Canada?

Axolotls are illegal in some parts of Canada not because they are critically endangered species, but because they are detrimental animals that pose a serious threat to native wildlife.

Though native axolotls are almost endangered species, the ban implies that axolotls in captivity differ behaviorally and genetically from native breeds.

Thus, the main reason for the Axolotls ban in some parts of Canada is the environmental threat that axolotls pose if they are released into the wild.

Are They Illegal in Europe?

No, Axolotls are legal in Europe.

However, there might be some restrictions involved in the import and export of pet axolotls. I recommend checking your country’s laws before deciding to import axolotls into Europe.

Are They Illegal in Australia?

No, it’s completely okay to own an axolotl in Australia. As long as you’re not importing or exporting the pet from overseas.

To simply put, you can buy Axolotls from a local pet store in Australia but to bring Axolotls legally into the country is prohibited by the law.

Also, in some parts of Australia, owning axolotls is completely fine. However, in some states like Western Australia, it is strictly prohibited to keep salamanders as pets.

Similarly, in the Northern Territory of Australia, it is illegal to export or keep axolotls.

Where Can You Buy Them?

Now that you know Axolotls are permitted to keep as pets in your country and state/provinces, it’s time to explore your options.

When it comes to Axolotl shopping, most pet stores and reptile shops will disappoint you. That’s because axolotls require a certain temperature and water conditions to survive healthily.

Therefore, I suggest contacting reputable sellers and breeders to ensure quality and accountability. Getting your pet Axolotl directly from a local pet shop saves you the hassle of shipping fees, and other potential scams.

Another great option to buy Axolotls is from reptile shows and expos that happen occasionally, where axolotls are regularly vetted and checked for diseases.

However, if you’re still unsure of getting your pet axolotls, I’d suggest two reputable online sources that raise and breed their own quality axolotls.

1. Fantaxies


Located in the heart of Colorado, this US based Axolotl breeder focuses on quality care to provide some of the best Axolotls you can purchase online

Click For More Info

Fantaxies is a reputed supplier of Axolotls, specially raised and bred in the USA.

What I love the most about Fantaxies is their customer support. They even help their customers personalize the shopping experience by providing them with live pictures and videos of axolotls.

For beginner pet owners, Fantaxies is an information hub that answers most of their queries and helps them in raising healthy, happy axolotls.

Ivy’s – A one-stop shop for all of your needs

Ivy's Axolotls

Based in the state of Washington, this online retailer has been running since 2018. It not only delivers high quality Axolotls, but has great content on Axolotl care

Click For More Info

Ivy’s axolotl is a kind of shop that leaves you wanting for more.

Pro tip: Don’t get tempted; spend wisely.

Ivy’s axolotls have been in the industry since 2018 and their customers find them quite trustworthy in terms of Axolotls breeding, raising, and then delivering live and healthy axolotls at their doorsteps.

Point to remember:

They only ship to legal US states with proof of permit. So, make sure you have your permits ready!

How do I get a permit to own an one?

To legally own exotic animals like axolotls in some states, you need permission from CITES. There are states in California where it is obligatory to have a special permit for the ownership of axolotls. However, in other countries like Mexico, you don’t need any permit to own axolotls. But it’s strictly prohibited to import or export axolotls.

What to do with an one in an Illegal State?

Multiple Axolotls

Suppose you’re stuck with your axolotl in an illegal state!

What can you do now?

Contact the local authorities respectfully

The first thing you should do is to contact the local Fish and Wildlife authorities. They will guide you about the legal procedures required to safely deal with the situation.

It’s highly likely that your state authorities will ask you to hand over your smiley friend to them. And even if that hurts, know that it’s best to follow the country’s laws.

Stop it from reproducing further

First things first;

  1. Keep male and female axolotls in a separate tank
  2. Euthanize all the eggs you own before they hatch

This way you’ll stop your axolotls from reproducing further and it will save you the pain of mass euthanasia.

Do not GIFT or Distribute eggs to your friends

Now, I understand gifting is a kind gesture, but do not put your friends’ and family’s safety at stake by distributing or gifting them axolotls eggs.

Also, you will be charged responsible for their challenging situation.

All in all, if you have an illegal pet, contact your local authorities and seek legal advice before it gets too late.

Legality In All 50 US States

Below is a quick table on where your state stands regarding axolotl keeping. This graph was updated as of the date updated at the top left of this post. I’ll work on keeping it up to date for my readers.

StateAre Axolotls Illegal?Is a Permit Required?Code Source
Connecticut YesNo
New HampshireNoNo
New JerseyYesNoLink
New MexicoNoYesLink
New YorkNoNo
North CarolinaNoNo
North DakotaNoNo
Rhode IslandNoNo
South CarolinaNoNo
South DakotaNoNo
West VirginiaNoNo


Are they illegal in Texas?

No, Axolotls are perfectly illegal in Texas as long as you conform to the city’s laws and regulations.

However, you are not allowed to legally import or export axolotls without permits. And this applies not just to Texas, but to any state or country.

You can check out your local laws and the nearest pet store to get yourself a happy, smiling pet.

Are they legal in the UK?

Yes, axolotls are legal to keep in the UK.

However, if you’re a seller or breeder, UK laws require a special license to sell Axolotls around the UK. Also, for the import and export of Mexican Walking fish, you should check with the country’s laws to avoid legal notice.

What states are they legal in?

Axolotls are legal in most states. However, since they are native to Mexico and critically endangered species, importing axolotls is illegal from other states.

Even though axolotls are legal to keep in Mexico. It’s prohibited to take them from the wild. Therefore, even in Mexico, it’s best to get your adorable pet from a reputable breeder.

Also, if you’re keeping a captive-bred axolotl, never leave them in the wild as they might inter-breed with native salamander species and pose a serious threat to the environment.

What states are they illegal in?

Axolotls are illegal in California, Maine, New Jersey, and Virginia, and D.C.

You can keep axolotls with a permit in New Mexico and Hawaii. Also, some provinces of Canada prohibit the ownership of axolotls such as New Brunswick, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island. Whereas, in Nova Scotia, a permit is required to keep axolotls.

Is it bad to own one?

No, it’s never bad to own an axolotl as long as you’re a caring and responsible owner. Also, if your country’s laws allow keeping axolotls as pets, you should definitely get one.

Axolotls like their water and tank temperatures maintained. Therefore, make sure to provide the ideal temperature, pH level, and food to your smiley little fella.
Also, they are voracious eaters. Therefore, only get one if you can keep one!

Can you own a salamander in California?

In California, any animal that belongs to Genus Ambystoma is illegal to own or import/ export including Tiger salamanders, axolotls along 201 other species of salamanders.

Do you need a license to own one?

Owning an axolotl within a country might not require any license. However, if you’re exporting or importing an exotic pet such as an axolotl, you require a permit to travel in and out of the country legally.

However, be informed that axolotls are illegal to own in various states, such as California, Maine, New Jersey, and Virginia

What pets are legal in Virginia?

The state law says,

“No person may possess nonnative exotic animals that are classed as predatory or undesirable as a “pet.” Nonnative exotic animals include, but are not limited to: bears, wolves, coyotes, weasels, badgers, hyenas, all species of non-domesticated cats, alligators, and crocodiles. Persons may possess these animals if they have licensed exhibitors, i.e. commercial, educational or scientific uses. However, there are no state requirements for a person possessing non-human primates.”

Final Thoughts

Axolotls are beautiful pets that grab attention and bring joy to your little home!

However, with increasing pollution and environmental crises, countries have taken measures to protect the natural environment by putting a ban on the import or export of axolotls. As owners, it is our responsibility to care for our animals and not do reckless things like releasing them into the wild. By abiding by laws and regulations, we can continue to enjoy these animals as pets.


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