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oceanblue
6th May 2013, 10:12
I have a hormone induced artificially metamorphosed axolotl for three years and it is easy to care for and appears healthy.

While my response to most people who post on the forum saying "How do I morph my axolotl?" is don't, it takes a bit of expertise to do it right and the necessary treatment is not readily available. I believe that properly done morphing produces healthy salamanders.

My initial motivation for morphing my axolotl was I wanted a tiger salamander but did not want to support the grab from the wild pet trade or american fisbait industry. I didn't want to import parasites to my stock.

Ethics is linked to beliefs and here are a few of mine: if anyone thinks they are seriously deranged then say so!

1. Axolotls generally morph well if artificially morphed at a size and age similar to that at which tiger salamanders morph.
2. Morphing a fully grown sexually mature axolotl often results in short lived individuals and I view it as unacceptable.
3. Keeping a morphed axolotl is ethically better than keeping a wild caught tiger salamander.
4. Morphed axolotls if they were to escape into the wild in europe are unlikely to breed, and if they did the offspring would be aquatic and less of an invasive ecological threat than tiger salamanders.

I've decided to morph more axolotls and supply in a small way to the trade via a forum member and so people may start to see morphed axolotls available in the UK and possibly european market.

Any thoughts on levels of support and advice needed to customers or any comments will be carefully considered.

A few points people planning to take on the care of a Metamorphosed axolotl need to consider:
a. they need a tiger salamander like environment.
b. they will not regenerate limbs if injured
c. they are older and have had a lot more individualised care than a similar sized juvenile axolotl, this is going to be reflected in the price.

I don't wish to be involved in a supply chain resembling the "baby dinosaurs" sold in the shopping mall business in America which frequently causes help posts on this forum.

Azhael
6th May 2013, 12:44
Personally, i pretty much agree with your list of points. 1 and 2 have been demonstrated a number of times and the results seem to be consistent. Number 3 i would in principle agree with. Number 4 i find largely irrelevant.
My objection, however, is based on the lack of weight that wanting to satisfy a whim carries with me. I get that there are people who really, really want a tiger salamander, and as i said, i do think that a properly metamorphosed, healthy axolotls, might well be preferable to a WC tiger salamander, but what is even far more preferable is for people to not be capricious. If someone really wants a tiger salamander but they arenīt available (remember that CB tigers are not quite as rare nowadays in europe) or they donīt want to purchase WC animals (which is great), i think the apropriate, mature, response is to say "oh well...pitty" rather than artificially imposing a fate on an animal that wouldnīt normally suffer it, to satisfy your desire.

In short ( ha!) while i largely agree with you, i find it insufficient justification and therefore i would be against it.

oceanblue
6th May 2013, 13:44
, i think the apropriate, mature, response is to say "oh well...pitty" rather than artificially imposing a fate on an animal that wouldnīt normally suffer it, to satisfy your desire.

In short ( ha!) while i largely agree with you, i find it insufficient justification and therefore i would be against it.

I do appreciate this view and am a little bit ambivalent about my actions, I'm also aware a lot of people are impulsive with pets and have formed the impression the average life of an aquatic axolotl sold to people who don't get lots of good advice first is months.

I accept that artificially triggered morphing is drastically changing the fate of axolotls but I don't think they suffer in the process. They sometimes stop eating for a few weeks late in morphing but so do Tigers. I hope to get the resulting salamanders to responsible caring owners, but that is what all pet shops say and regrettably few achieve. I hope to supply a narrow informed market, not create a red eared "Ninja" turtle style eco-disaster of impulse purchase then abandoned pets.

Azhael
16th May 2013, 13:53
If the goal is to supply a narrow, informed market, then i fail to see why they couldnīt be supplied with CB tigers. They are being bred more and more, and there have even been massively successful breedings that have produced hundreds of healthy offspring. I could perhaps be persuaded to see the point of creating an artificial substitute (provided that it is consistently safe) if the CB real deal wasnīt available as has been the case for so long, but nowadays that has changed very much indeed. Informed people know about this and should be able to acquire CB tigers if they want them.
So iīm left with the same opinion...itīs unnecessary and therefore unjustified. Furthermore, it seems like a cheat to avoid the admitedly complicated production of CB tigers, which is something we should be actively promoting, rather than shortcutting.

As you can see my objection is quite tame but i still feel itīs not ethically sound nor in the best interest of the hobby and the animals.

Quentari
16th May 2013, 15:24
Well the only option in Australia for anyone who want's a salamander is a morphed axolotl, as we don't allow any other salamanders into the country. So I suppose, location wise, the artificial morphing of axolotl's could be justified. We don't have tiger salamanders here.

snuggly time
16th May 2013, 20:32
I sit in the fence with this one.
I think it is alright for someone to morph an axolotl if they have years of experience and are doing it correctly. It does look like you've done your research, lol. I'm sure it's interesting to watch and study them morphing, for instance, I didn't know they couldn't regenerate a limb after morphing. But, I hope it doesn't encourage others to give it a go, which could go wrong and result in animals suffering or their lifespan being shortened drastically.

I personally wouldn't feel comfortable morphing an axolotl or buying a morph, but I can see why it might interest others. :yin-yang:

oceanblue
17th May 2013, 14:21
I sit in the fence with this one.
I think it is alright for someone to morph an axolotl if they have years of experience and are doing it correctly. It does look like you've done your research, lol. I'm sure it's interesting to watch and study them morphing, for instance, I didn't know they couldn't regenerate a limb after morphing. But, I hope it doesn't encourage others to give it a go, which could go wrong and result in animals suffering or their lifespan being shortened drastically.

I personally wouldn't feel comfortable morphing an axolotl or buying a morph, but I can see why it might interest others. :yin-yang:
Thanks for your views, Yes I did research things pretty thoroughly, first morphed one for myself and sat back and waited and did a lot more research. I will try to get as much feedback as possible. I've also considered various scenarios including what sort of failure rate might result, the literature suggests few but sometimes people keep quiet about problems! To date all have morphed well but it is early days.

I have checked my notes and while I said in my first post I'd had a morphed axolotl for 3 years it is actually four years morphed and will be five years old from hatching in late October.

Coastal Groovin
17th May 2013, 18:02
If someone here wants to play high and mighty and tell you no just ignore them. 9 out of 10 times the people that scream about ethics are the worst offenders. I personally see nothing wrong with it.

oceanblue
18th May 2013, 11:00
If someone here wants to play high and mighty and tell you no just ignore them. 9 out of 10 times the people that scream about ethics are the worst offenders. I personally see nothing wrong with it.
I was sorely tempted to hit the like button but the problem for me is that in researching this topic I fell across several articles that made me think what I am reading here is wrong, for instance a school/college "experiment" involving treating large groups of axolotls with various doses of hormone and observing the results.

This sort of experiment serves no purpose beyond educating the students and part of the education it teaches them is animals are bred in large groups for euthanasia.

I don't want to morph axolotls for short unhappy lives, if I find I am I will stop.

Loobylou
20th May 2013, 07:48
Apart from research purposes, I don't really see the benefit of morphing axolotls. I would have thought it would be much more beneficial for the hobby if more people in the UK tried to captive breed tigers to reduce the demand for wild caught animals. Selling a small number of morphed individuals will not touch the number of tigers being imported. Tiger salamanders are becoming easier and easier to find on the market, in fact I paid less for a pair of tigers (plus courier costs) than my lfs charges for 2 adult axolotls.

Treagle
20th May 2013, 15:06
Personally, I wouldn't do it because :

1)It takes knowledge and skill to morp an axolotl.
2)There's no benefit in it.
3)You're basicly playing with an alive animal
(When it isn't necesary for the animal's health,
I personally would never interfere with nature.)
4)An axolotl was also initialy wild caught too.

If you think, I'm wrong please tell me.

oceanblue
20th May 2013, 18:54
Apart from research purposes, I don't really see the benefit of morphing axolotls. I would have thought it would be much more beneficial for the hobby if more people in the UK tried to captive breed tigers to reduce the demand for wild caught animals. Selling a small number of morphed individuals will not touch the number of tigers being imported. Tiger salamanders are becoming easier and easier to find on the market, in fact I paid less for a pair of tigers (plus courier costs) than my lfs charges for 2 adult axolotls.
I know others are trying to captive breed Tiger salamanders but imports, essentially unsold grown up fish bait from the US are always going to win on price. Tigers are tricky to mate, only have one brood a year and are more cannibalistic than axolotls. You have also compared an almost wholesale price with a retail price.

"Selling a small number of morphed individuals will not touch the number of tigers being imported."-can I tackle this with a challenge?-

If we were to scale up and supply morphed axolotls at a level of price equal to or below the cost of an ethically grown captive bred tiger salamander, at say for argument a price 50% higher than the current cost of an imported Tiger, would that be an ethical and sensible thing to do?

I cannot see myself achieving a commercial size Tiger breeding project. I can envisage a commercial size metamorphosed mexicanum supply business. One reason for this thread is that I am considering trying to touch the numbers of tigers being imported and am trying to formulate if this is ethical. I will then have to do my own sums as to the economics and pricing but that is a commercial not an ethical problem.

Should we scale up, maket metamorphosed mexicanum as an ethical tiger salamander substitute and attempt to displace the Tiger salamander import business?

Mark
20th May 2013, 20:16
Should we scale up, maket metamorphosed mexicanum as an ethical tiger salamander substitute and attempt to displace the Tiger salamander import business?

Do you know the size of the tiger salamander business in the UK? i.e. yearly import figures. I have no idea myself. Compared with the days when the big-shed chain pet shops sold wc amphibians I imagine it's fairly small.

xxianxx
20th May 2013, 21:26
Personally, I wouldn't do it because :

1)It takes knowledge and skill to morp an axolotl.
2)There's no benefit in it.
3)You're basicly playing with an alive animal
(When it isn't necesary for the animal's health,
I personally would never interfere with nature.)
4)An axolotl was also initialy wild caught too.

If you think, I'm wrong please tell me.

1) Oceanblue has the skill
2) Reducing wild caught tiger sal imports ? possibly
3) Hmmmm...... everything you do has an impact on the environment, wether it is using transport, eating food etc
4) The axolotls being morphed are cb
And to answer Marks question, I dont think there will be any officially available figures for wc tiger sal imports

Mark
20th May 2013, 22:15
And to answer Marks question, I dont think there will be any officially available figures for wc tiger sal imports
I would think it wise to understand the market before embarking on any business venture. The ethics question appears to be tied in with reducing wild tiger imports. If you justify the ethics in this way it makes sense that you have to know about wc tiger imports.

xxianxx
21st May 2013, 00:45
I would think it wise to understand the market before embarking on any business venture. The ethics question appears to be tied in with reducing wild tiger imports. If you justify the ethics in this way it makes sense that you have to know about wc tiger imports.

The facts I would be working on are
a) wc tiger sals are imported into the UK
b) Some people would like a terrestrial sal but dont want wc
c) Oceanblue and I can offer a tiger sal like morphed axolotl which are cb
There will be a market for morphed axolotls, it may not be a big one but it is there. Oceanblue morphed his initial axolotl precisely because he didnt want a wc tiger, I chose not to get a tiger myself for the same reason.

Mark
21st May 2013, 07:41
I think you are more likely to create a market for metamorphed axolotls rather than reduce tiger imports. People will buy one because they are a novelty or because they couldn't get hold of a tiger salamander due to lack of availability. The ethics question should be based solely on whether it's ethical to force metamophosis. Tiger salamanders are not a vunerable species and the pet trade exports do not constitute a threat.

oceanblue
21st May 2013, 09:03
I think you are more likely to create a market for metamorphed axolotls rather than reduce tiger imports. People will buy one because they are a novelty or because they couldn't get hold of a tiger salamander due to lack of availability. The ethics question should be based solely on whether it's ethical to force metamophosis. Tiger salamanders are not a vunerable species and the pet trade exports do not constitute a threat.
I agree with most of this but I think tiger salamanders are a potential threat to Europe. Their climate and habitat range would allow them to become invasive if released. We have several species of feral turtles and alpine newts but axolotls have not become a problem despite 150 years over here. I am aware New Zealand successfully blitzed one feral colony of axolotls they felt was a threat. I doubt they would have succeeded if they were tigers.

In the US the way various species and forms have been shifted round in itself has drastically changed the ecology.

I personally feel happier supplying metamorphosed mexicanum than I would supplying captive bred tiger salamanders. I would hate to be identified as the source of a feral colony of tigers similar to this colony of non-native newts:
http://www.caudata.org/forum/f1173-advanced-newt-salamander-topics/f1159-fieldwork-fieldherping/f1160-field-herping-accounts/90997-what-species.html

The pet trade in many ways is supplying novelty. I don't aspire to be either "the dog for Christmas" or "Ninja turtle" supplier, merely a supplier of healthy unusual and not too tricky to care for long lived pets. Is supplying novelty itself a bad thing?

xxianxx
21st May 2013, 12:16
Tiger salamanders are not a vunerable species and the pet trade exports do not constitute a threat.

The pet trade is a threat to individual wild tigers, there will also be an elevated mortality rate throught the distribution chain from collection to customer. I cant give you an exact figure but I know from a number of species that this is potentially high. I would consider a morphed axolotl to be preferable to a wc tiger sal on this fact alone.

pondweed
21st May 2013, 12:27
( Unrelated, sort of, but this is reminding me of something. My mother sent me a Daily Mail - don't know why she reads it, but she does - online article about axolotls, and there was a comment that seriously made me plant my face on my desk:

"Why don't they just realise the pet ones into the lakes?"

When you've got people with that sort of misunderstanding - or limited understanding - of endangered species and the fragility of ecosystems and invasive species, it's no wonder they're sometimes set "free"... )

Are metamorphosed axolotls less likely to breed than adult tigers? Would adult tigers be able reproduce in the UK climate...?

I'm personally of the stance that if chemically inducing them to metamorphose at a similar time to a similar species naturally would, and with a chemical that they could produce themselves had they not selected it out of their genetic line... well, there's certainly a lot less wrong with THAT than what we do to poor dogs through selective breeding, if it doesn't impact on the individual's lifespan greatly.

( Can Tigers and Axolotls be crossbred...? Ignoring whether this might make them "hardier" in a what-if-we-were-to-release-them-into-the-wilderness! way, where does this draw the line between their species...? )

Mark
21st May 2013, 12:45
If the mortality rate was high traders wouldn't bother importing them. I don't buy the invasive species argument either. Tiger salamanders were far more popular 10 years ago and we've not seen any problems with naturalized populations. I don't think you should try justifying the ethics of forced metamorphosis by seeing it as a solution to problems that don't exist. There is no discernible conservation value or threat of naturalization. If you wanted to help tiger sals you'd be better off getting involved in habitat conservation or lobbying the bait industry. For me the questions should be does it impact on the longterm welfare of the axolot? Is longevity reduced significantly?

There's nothing wrong with just doing it for novelty if that's the only reason you have. Novelty sells. I don't know enough about the science of forcing an obligate neotene to metamorphose so I have nothing really to add in terms of longterm animal health or if this is ethically sound.

oceanblue
21st May 2013, 19:23
Personally, I wouldn't do it because :

1)It takes knowledge and skill to morp an axolotl.
2)There's no benefit in it.
3)You're basicly playing with an alive animal
(When it isn't necesary for the animal's health,
I personally would never interfere with nature.)
4)An axolotl was also initialy wild caught too.

If you think, I'm wrong please tell me.I acknowledge your view that this is unneccesary interference with the nature of the animal, but as far as amphibians go all axolotls in the pet and laboratory trade are about as captive bred as it is possible to be.

The majority of the stock genetics daties back to the 19th century. Buying one or more, morphed or not will not impact in any way on the wild axolotl, neither will it save it from extinction as the animals in the trade are shadows of the native stock.

oceanblue
21st May 2013, 20:06
If the mortality rate was high traders wouldn't bother importing them. I don't buy the invasive species argument either. Tiger salamanders were far more popular 10 years ago and we've not seen any problems with naturalized populations. I don't think you should try justifying the ethics of forced metamorphosis by seeing it as a solution to problems that don't exist. There is no discernible conservation value or threat of naturalization. If you wanted to help tiger sals you'd be better off getting involved in habitat conservation or lobbying the bait industry. For me the questions should be does it impact on the longterm welfare of the axolot? Is longevity reduced significantly?

There's nothing wrong with just doing it for novelty if that's the only reason you have. Novelty sells. I don't know enough about the science of forcing an obligate neotene to metamorphose so I have nothing really to add in terms of longterm animal health or if this is ethically sound.

I appreciate these points: I think that concentrating thoughts on what is ethical on the individual axolotl rather than if you are somehow reforming the world is sensible. I have not been able to find solid data on the long term welfare impact of the sort resembling a proper medical clinical trial, it is all individual data with a lot about what does not work well.

Personally I'd like follow up and feedback, but I wonder what would be regarded as an acceptable death rate. Any ideas on the life expectancy of unmorphed axolotls in the hands of reasonably competent carers? I know they can last 15 years but if kept at 20C+ their life is often nearer to 6 years.

What happened to the tigers of 10 years ago? The species record is 15 years, not much less than axolotl, Have they really a low import death rate and subsequent long life?

If I do try to set up feedback and obtain survival figures how do I find out if these animals are healthier or weaker than imported tigers or even ordinary axolotls. They are not going to be subject to death by ammonia or nitrite poisoning.

James Gordon
30th May 2013, 17:51
Hi,
That's really interesting. What hormone are you using? I know that thyroxine has been used.

oceanblue
31st May 2013, 18:26
Hi,
That's really interesting. What hormone are you using? I know that thyroxine has been used.
I don't want to be drawn into making this thread a guide to how to morph axolotls. I did research and closely followed a published successful protocol.

jimmy1
2nd June 2013, 12:26
Well the only option in Australia for anyone who want's a salamander is a morphed axolotl, as we don't allow any other salamanders into the country. So I suppose, location wise, the artificial morphing of axolotl's could be justified. We don't have tiger salamanders here.

So just because you cant have them in australia its justified?
There are already lots of different colors, there are breeding lines of axies
Without eyes and axies that glow in the dark.
And now people are morphing them,i wonder what the death rare is?
It seems like axolots are the new labrats for amphibienkeepers.

oceanblue
3rd June 2013, 18:05
So just because you cant have them in australia its justified?
There are already lots of different colors, there are breeding lines of axies
Without eyes and axies that glow in the dark.
And now people are morphing them,i wonder what the death rare is?
It seems like axolots are the new labrats for amphibienkeepers.
The laboratory axolotl dates from the late 1800's probably about 50 years after the first laboratory rat. The axolotl pet trade has grown from and been supplied by the laboratory keeping of these animals.
Axolotls have been used for many experiments in embryology, development and genetics, many mutations being identified and helping the understanding of genetics in the late 19th and early 20th century and they are stiil being studied for understanding of gene induction and how development occurs.

The eyeless mutation gave some insight into the development of the brain and eyes which may ultimately lead to stem cell treatments for degenerative blindness.

The albino mutation was deliberately introduced into axolotls from an albino tiger salamander to aid embryology studies and the GFP axolotl was created for the same end.

The Melanoid axolotl originates from a scientific university sponsored collection trip and has led to an understanding of pigment and purine metabolsm.

Scientists have been metamorphosing axolotls for over 90 years, there is no excuse for making a botch of it or using methods which are cruel.

I'm convinced the death rate during metamorphosis is very low if the person doing it knows what he is doing, long term survival takes a long time to assess and as far as I can see no one has published figures.
I would welcome such figures, either published or in confidence by PM. I would also welcome honest figures of real life non-metamorphosed axolotl survival in the hands of the public. I suspect it is not very good which is why some people question the appropriateness of axolotls as a pet.

The metamorphosed mexicanum I am responsible for can be seen in this thread-
http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-beginner-newt-salamander-axolotl-help-topics/f48-axolotls-ambystoma-mexicanum/f57-axolotl-general-discussion/91260-morphed-axolotls.html

otolith
3rd June 2013, 18:53
While I don't have any ethical issues with your goals, I do feel it is a bit misguided to use Tigers as a justification for the whole enterprise. If mitigating damage to wild populations is the "goal" I would think it might be better achieved by focusing attention to a captive breeding Tiger program and introducing more CB tigers to the market. I feel like this might be an excellent use of your very obvious caudate knowledge and skill and given the recent success in Europe with CB tigers seems well within the realm of possibility.

If you want to sell morphed Axolotls thats fine, and I have no doubt that you could sell them; however I have issues with the "moral high ground" for doing so. I feel like you might just be introducing a new product to an already murky market.

oceanblue
3rd June 2013, 19:26
While I don't have any ethical issues with your goals, I do feel it is a bit misguided to use Tigers as a justification for the whole enterprise. If mitigating damage to wild populations is the "goal" I would think it might be better achieved by focusing attention to a captive breeding Tiger program and introducing more CB tigers to the market. I feel like this might be an excellent use of your very obvious caudate knowledge and skill and given the recent success in Europe with CB tigers seems well within the realm of possibility.

If you want to sell morphed Axolotls thats fine, and I have no doubt that you could sell them; however I have issues with the "moral high ground" for doing so. I feel like you might just be introducing a new product to an already murky market.
I set up the thread because I wanted to sort out ideas, not necessarily take a "moral high ground" and I think I accepted the point about tigers in post 25 and agree ethics should be focused on the individual animal.

Reputation scores can be deceptive, my "obvious caudate knowledge and skill" is actually vey narrow, the reputation has been achieved by having the sense to let others answer threads when I know I haven't a clue.

I have a great deal of knowledge of human and animal thyroid function having trained as a pathologist in an area of the UK in a unit with an international reputation for thyroid research. My knowledge of tiger salamander breeding is mainly based on what I have read in this forum, I've not kept one, let alone bred one so their captive breeding is best progressed by others.

I feel metamorphosed mexicanum shape up as pets in a similar way to aquatic axolotls, they are captive bred and not depleting a wild population. If people buy them rather than tigers then good, rather than other wild collected species under threat better.

I sometimes think the entire pet trade is a murky market.

kroezen
19th June 2013, 21:56
I don't know much about metamorphed axolotls, so my opinion may not be very valid in this discussion. I would, none-the-less, like to share anyway.
I personally can't see the value in a metamorphed axolotl, regardless of how it happened (mind you I don't like the idea of having a terrestrial salamander). Though I suppose if it's done propperly there shouldn't be a problem.
Though, like stated by others, if it's possible to get wild caught tiger salamanders or even captive bred ones, then get them instead rather than forcing an axolotl to change. I can understand wanting a terrestrial axolotl if you live in austrailia as no others are available.

All in all, so long as it doesn't harm the axolotl, go for it.