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Do Axolotls Bleed? [This Is Essential To Know & Understand]

A pet axolotl can be interesting to watch as it moves through its aquatic home. However, one day you might notice that your axolotl has some areas that are discolored, or there is something floating in the water near your axolotl that looks like it could be blood. Is that even possible? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know. 

So, do axolotls bleed? Axolotls can bleed and may do so from time to time. They have an oxygen-carrying blood system like many other living creatures that consists of blood cells and veins. If an axolotl experiences an injury to its gills or body tissues, it may bleed as a result. 

So, chances are, you may have observed blood, or it is likely something that you will notice at some point if you care for one of these aquatic amphibians as a pet. 

But what does axolotl blood look like; what should you do in response to seeing it? Keep reading – I’ll be answering these important questions and more!

Do Axolotls Have Red Blood?

Axolotl blood, like human blood, uses the protein hemoglobin to carry oxygen through the body. This oxygen-carrying protein gives axolotls red blood. That being said, it may not always appear bright red as it will dilute with the water and other components of the tank, causing some changes in shade.

If you have a leucistic or an albino axolotl, you can frequently see signs of their red blood around their gills which shift between a light pink to a bright red color as your axolotl moves, eats, or even experiences stress. 

The gills of your axolotl has a lot of blood cells and help with the exchange of oxygen between your pet and the water it lives in. 

As your axolotl moves more or increases their breathing and blood flow, these areas will turn a brighter shade of pink and red in relation to the amount of blood cells moving through the area.

An axolotl that is bleeding may not show the same bright red blood we expect to see when a human has an injury. 

This is because as their blood leaves the wound, it mixes with the water in their environment and can become less vibrant. 

Also, the exact color that appears may vary based on the type of lights (if any) you have in your aquarium.

Want a fun axolotl fact? Scientists are closely studying axolotls because they have proven to be great at healing injuries and even regrowing lost limbs. This interest has led scientists to use special proteins to create some axolotls that have very bright red blood cells and others that display green blood cells! 

Being able to easily see the blood cell activity of axolotls helps scientists gather information on their amazing body healing processes.

When Are Axolotls Likely To Bleed?

Axolotls are likely to bleed if they have experienced an injury from a sharp object in their aquarium or if they are attacked or nibbled on by a tank mate. Axolotls may bleed a lot if they tear, cut, or injure their gills which contain a lot of blood cells. A rarer cause of bleeding could be from the presence of parasites or disease that causes damage to your axolotl’s skin.

Other Axolotls

When axolotls are housed together, they may bite or nibble at each other from time to time. 

Just like any other animal, receiving a bite that pierces the skin will lead to some bleeding.

If the nibble is small, bleeding should stop on its own. 

If a larger bite occurred, you may need a veterinarian’s opinion on care and will likely have significant bleeding.


Remember the pink gills we talked about earlier? 

Axolotl gills have a lot of blood cells that stay very close to the skin’s surface. This means that if their gills get scraped, cut, or torn, they can bleed quite a bit. 

The positive is that even if your axolotl has a gill that seems to be bleeding for a while, it will usually clear up on its own. 

Just remember that the gills are very sensitive, and if you notice them bleeding, you should monitor your axolotl closely.

Parasites or Disease

A less common reason for bleeding can be from parasites or disease. Parasites can harm your axolotl’s skin and organs, leading to bleeding. 

The bleeding may be from areas other than the gills or limbs and have no immediately known cause. 

Usually, if parasites are present, your axolotl will display signs of feeling unwell, such as dull, limp gills. 

A veterinarian can help diagnose parasites and disease while coming up with a plan for treatment.

How Do I Know If My Axolotl Is Bleeding?

Axolotl blood is red and will be differently colored than your tank’s typical water as it leaves your axolotl’s body. If you see blood floating in your tank or your axolotl has red or brownish liquid gathered near its gills or limbs, you will know your axolotl is bleeding. Since bleeding often occurs around an axolotl’s gills, you may notice that the gills of your axolotl appear tinted darker or a slightly different shade of blood is present.

If you suspect that your axolotl might be bleeding, it is usually safe to gently lift your axolotl out of the water for a closer inspection. 

By carefully holding your axolotl or placing it in some cool fresh water, you may be able to get a better idea of whether your axolotl is bleeding and where exactly the blood is coming from.

What To Do If Your Axolotl Is Bleeding

If your axolotl is bleeding, there are a few steps you can and should take.

The first step is to inspect your axolotl and try to locate the location of the bleeding; the second is to check your water quality to make sure the tank is providing a healthy living environment, the third is to monitor your axolotl to see if the bleeding continues or it is time to contact a veterinarian.

Inspect Your Axolotl Closely

If you think your axolotl is bleeding, take the time to carefully look over your axolotl for any injuries.

This is one time that it is acceptable to briefly use some added light to see your axolotl or hold your axolotl gently out of water.

Make a note of any spots that appear to be bleeding or irritated.

When you know where your axolotl is bleeding from, you can start to discover possible causes.

Bleeding legs or tails in a shared aquarium are often from other animals nibbling on your axolotl out of curiosity or aggression.

Bleeding gills can be caused by irritation or cutting of the gills by a sharp object in the tank. Inappropriate decorations are one such example which is why it is essential to get the right ones.

Gills and other parts can also bleed due to illness or injury.

Check Your Water Quality

If your axolotl is bleeding as a result of illness or injury, you want to be extra attentive to the water quality in your tank.

Axolotls have great self-healing skills, but being in water that is not healthy for them can slow or prevent the axolotl from healing.

Poor water quality can also lead to irritation and illness that might be the cause of your axolotl’s bleeding.

After checking your water’s temperature, pH levels, and other chemical levels, make any adjustments needed to give your axolotl the best water possible.

You may even need to invest in a good filter.

Monitor Your Axoltol Closely

After locating the source of the bleeding and making sure you have the best water possible, you need to monitor your axolotl closely for a few days.

Most of the time, an axolotl’s bleeding will stop on its own, and you will notice any injuries begin to heal.

However, if your axolotl has a parasite infection or is being picked on by a tank mate, you may notice new bleeding spots or injuries that have a harder time healing.

If your axolotl is still showing signs of mild bleeding after 24 hours or ever shows signs of significant bleeding from a major injury, contact your veterinarian for further care instructions.

If your axolotl lives with other axolotls or aquatic animals, consider moving it to an isolated tank until the bleeding has stopped and any injuries have healed.

This is especially true if you feel the bleeding may have been caused by a biting tankmate.

If your axolotl is bleeding and also has changes in its behavior, eating habits, movement patterns, or is struggling to swim, contact your veterinarian right away.

How To Ensure Your Axolotl Doesn’t Bleed

While even with the best care, an axolotl may bleed at some point in its life, there are things you can do to prevent most causes of bleeding. To help ensure your axolotl doesn’t bleed, you should remove any overly sharp objects from your tank, keep your axolotl from living too closely with other axolotls, and work to treat any signs of illness or infection as quickly as possible. 

Keeping your axolotl’s tank free of sharp or jagged objects lowers the chances of them cutting their sensitive gills as they move through the waters of their tank. 

Axolotl gills are easily injured and can snag or tear on things inside the tank. 

If your axolotl is frequently injuring its gills or blood appears on the edge of an item in the tank, assess your tank features and remove any that might cause injury.

Axolotls and other aquatic creatures are opportunistic feeders and curious creatures. 

An axolotl that is living in too small of a tank with other axolotls and gets hungry may very well try to take a bit from a tankmate. 

Sometimes fish can confuse axolotl gills with an edible item as well. 

To make sure your axolotl doesn’t bleed as the result of bites, house your axolotl alone or in a large enough tank to provide plenty of space for everyone to live separately.

If you notice that your axolotl is acting unwell, has discolored gills, has gills that are limp, or is otherwise not acting right – seek help from a professional. 

The best prevention for bleeding from parasites and illness is early treatment. By not delaying when your axolotl seems sick, you lower their chances of bleeding.


Axolotls, like most living creatures, may bleed from time to time during their life. 

By carefully observing your axolotl and giving it a safe living environment, you can prevent bleeding and care for an axolotl that is bleeding quite easily. 

Most cases of minor bleeding will resolve on their own without the need for specific medical attention. 

If your axolotl is bleeding heavily or has a spot that seems to regularly show signs of bleeding, it is time to seek the help of a veterinarian.