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Do Axolotls Carry Diseases? [Can You Get Sick From Them?]

If you are interested in getting a pet as unique and distinctive as an axolotl, naturally, you’ll be concerned about diseases. Do they typically carry them? Can they be passed on to humans? What do you need to do to keep your axolotl healthy and everyone safe? Well, here is everything you are going to want to know. 

So, do axolotls carry disease? Axolotls can be carriers of some diseases caused by bacteria, parasites, and fungus. While it is rare for an axolotl to have a disease that causes humans serious harm, they can be infected with salmonella bacteria, which can be passed on with poor husbandry and hygiene practices and cause illness to those who contract it. 

Salmonella is not unique to axolotls. It’s common bacteria in many animals. 

And while it’s not typically life-threatening, it’s really not something you want to ingest.

If a human ingests salmonella bacteria, it can cause severe digestive problems with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.

In extreme cases, it may even require the help of a doctor. 

So, you will soon know if you did pick it up!

Thankfully, simple preventative steps such as handwashing will greatly reduce your risk of contracting salmonella from an axolotl.

With this in mind, let us continue to explore disease in this aquatic amphibian.

And you’re going to want to stick around.

This information can go a long way in ensuring you or a family member does not get sick and that your axolotl lives a long, healthy life. 

What Diseases Can Axolotls Carry?

There are several diseases that axolotls can carry – most of which are brought on by stress and poor tank conditions. Bacterial diseases axolotls can carry are septicemia (also known as “red leg” disease”), mycobacteriosis, and columnaris. A common fungal disease carried by axolotls is saprolegnia, a fungus that thrives in cold water.  

Axolotls are susceptible to several types of parasites, which are best prevented through proper quarantine and the introduction of new tank mates or tank objects (like decorations). 

The most dangerous of these parasites to your axolotl is Costia. 

In most cases, axolotl diseases pose a risk for the axolotl more than for their human caretaker. 

With proper tank cleaning, water filtration, and hand washing after handling, humans are generally safe from axolotl disease. 

The one disease that humans interacting with axolotls need to be aware of for their own health when caring for axolotls is salmonella.

Do Axolotls Carry Salmonella?

Axolotls, like many reptiles and amphibians, can be carriers of salmonella. Salmonella is a bacteria that regularly lives in the digestive tract of axolotls as well as other amphibious pets. 

Simply carrying salmonella in the mouth or digestive tract will not cause an axolotl to be ill or make their owners ill. 

Axolotls may spread salmonella through their feces or other digestive juices. 

If the owner of an axolotl handles their axolotl or comes in contact with their axolotl’s feces and does not properly wash their hands afterward, they could be at risk of contracting or spreading salmonella.

How Do I Know If My Axolotl Has Salmonella?

As salmonella doesn’t typically make an axolotl show outward signs of illness, it can be very difficult to tell if your axolotl is carrying salmonella bacteria. If you want to be certain whether your axolotl is carrying salmonella, you will need to collect a fecal sample and take it to a veterinary lab for testing. Fecal sampling may require more than one sample in order to accurately test for the presence of salmonella.

Collecting a fecal sample from an axolotl isn’t necessarily an easy task. 

You will want to use fresh feces gathered from the tank in a clean container. 

You may need to quarantine your axolotl in a smaller tank for feeding in hopes that it will pass stool while in the smaller enclosure. 

Collecting a sample will require careful observation and a steady hand. 

You will want to be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after gathering an axolotl fecal sample. 

Once you have a fresh sample, you will want to take it straight to be tested – be sure to call your veterinarian ahead of time so they know to be expecting you and to be certain they provide fecal sampling labs at their location.

While salmonella does not typically make an axolotl ill, if an axolotl is sick due to salmonella infection, you will likely notice your axolotl having diarrhea, a possibly bloody stool, and lethargic behavior.

A sick axolotl is not likely to eat well and may have trouble moving around their aquarium.

Can You Get Salmonella From An Axolotl?

It is possible for humans to get salmonella from an axolotl. If you handle your axolotl or come in contact with their feces within their tank and then touch your face, mouth, eyes, or nose, you could introduce salmonella bacteria into your system. Contracting salmonella from axolotls is very rare and easily preventable.

To prevent yourself from getting salmonella from an axolotl, you should make sure to thoroughly wash your hands and forearms with antibacterial soap and warm water after interacting with your axolotl. 

Interactions that should lead to handwashing include holding your axolotl, feeding your axolotl, and moving or cleaning things in your axolotl’s tank. 

The rule of better safe than sorry applies when deciding if you should wash your hands after being around your axolotl.

Another way to prevent catching salmonella from your axolotl is to wear gloves when you handle your pet or clean their tank

Wearing gloves, paired with handwashing, adds an extra layer of protection from any unwanted bacteria exposure.

An adult with a properly functioning immune system who follows the above recommendations runs very little chance of experiencing a serious illness from caring for their axolotl. 

Those who may need to be extra cautious or reconsider their choice in an axolotl pet are people with weakened or compromised immune systems that may be more likely to struggle with bacterial infections. 

Young children should also be monitored closely when around an axolotl and be helped with handwashing as salmonella can be more difficult for small children to recuperate from than adults.

Can I Get Sick From My Axolotl?

Outside of the potential for salmonella exposure, the transmission of diseases from an axolotl to humans is very rare. Because axolotls can get other bacterial and fungal infections, it isn’t impossible for a human to get sick when handling an axolotl, but it is not common.

Your axolotl will not pass illnesses to you such as the flu or colds but instead may spread bacteria or fungus from its environment to you. 

Generally, these bacterias and fungi do not survive well outside of an aquatic environment and pose little threat to people. 

Still, washing your hands and practicing good tank hygiene is important for both your health and your pet’s health.

How To Keep Your Axolotl Safe From Disease

The most important step for keeping your axolotl safe from disease is proper tank management. This means providing your axolotl with cool, clean water, nutritious food, and a properly working tank filter. While many of the bacteria that can cause an axolotl illness naturally exist in their tank environment, most (although not all) axolotls will stay healthy unless they are experiencing stress or poor care.

Monitor The Water

Keep a close eye on your water parameters to make sure your axolotl has the best possible tank environment. 

Water that is too warm can cause an axolotl to experience heat stress and be more likely to become ill. 

Water with the wrong levels of ammonia and nitrates can also make your axolotl more likely to experience sickness.


Be sure to quarantine any new axolotls or other tankmates you plan to add.

Parasites and other diseases can be introduced to an axolotl’s tank by new residents that have not been monitored for disease before moving in. 

Considering quarantining new aquatic animals for at least one week before moving them into a tank community.

If you suspect that your axolotl is ill, it is smart to quarantine your axolotl if possible. 

Read more: Do Axolotls Get Lonely? [Should Axolotls Be Kept In Pairs?]

Optimize Diet

Just like other animals, a healthy diet is a key to good health. Make sure you are feeding your axolotl appropriately and that they are eating well. 

An axolotl who is hungry or not receiving the right nutrition will struggle to stay healthy and fight off diseases.

Read more: Best Pellets For Axolotls [What You Need To Feed, Why & How]

Change The Water

It is also a good idea to try changing out your tank water by approximately 50% to help rid the tank of any built-up bacteria or harmful materials. 

If your axolotl shows signs of disease for more than 24 hours, contact your veterinarian – they may be able to prescribe antibiotics, parasite treatment, or antifungal medicine to help your axolotl get on the road to recovery.


Axolotls rarely carry diseases.

But it is important to stress that they can.

This is why purchasing an axolotl from a reputable breeder is so crucial.

At the same time, you must consider that salmonella is something all axolotls will likely carry, regardless of how healthy they are or when/where/how they have been raised.

So proper hygiene, husbandry, and care practices must be followed at all times.

Have other questions about axolotls or axolotl care? Then my following guides may be of interest to you: