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Sick Axolotl? Axolotl looking down in the gills? The doctors are in.

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Old 28th October 2014   #1
arsn9lea
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Default Axel won't eat.

After several months of good health, my Axel basically quit eating over a week ago. At first, he'd snap at worms, regurgitate them, and keep at it, sometimes ultimately not getting the worm. Then, he'd snap at them, spit them right out immediately, and not even try. Then, he'd barely snap at them.

While he didn't seem to be having trouble staying at the bottom, I thought his (?) cloaca looked somewhat swollen and the rear legs were sort of sticking out straight. I fridged him for about 3 days. After the first night, he had a fairly large bowel movement. For the remainder of his fridge time, there was no more solid stuff, though some floaties and seemingly more sand appeared in the fridge container than there had been when I put him in. His cloaca might still be a bit big, but it's hard to tell.

At any rate, he's back in the ordinary tank. Most of the time, he won't even snap at a worm if you touch it to his face. The rest of the time, he gulps it and spits it right out. In other words, he still doesn't eat and I doubt he's eaten anything in over a week.

I don't see anything wrong with his body. No fungus, no rot, no obvious sores, etc. He doesn't seem to have trouble moving around, but he's more lethargic than usual.

Help!



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Old 28th October 2014   #2
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

I should also mention that his gills look physically okay. He has been keeping one up and curled forward a bit (stress?), and the rest are held in the normal position. They don't look broken or like there is anything wrong with the structure of them, though.



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Old 28th October 2014   #3
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A week isn't terribly long for them to go without food. Is he full grown and could you provide pictures?



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Old 28th October 2014   #4
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

Yes, he's fully grown. He looks somewhat skinnier than he had before this, but not emaciated. I'm more alarmed because it is such a change in behavior for him. The more I think of it, the "pickiness" started at least two weeks ago (maybe more), but little (if any) food for a bit over a week.

I'll snap a few photos later today and put them on here.

Thanks for the reply!



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Old 28th October 2014   #5
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

Okay, I've attached a few photos of my friend Axel.

You can see the cloaca area on them. On one of them, you can see him holding one of his legs up, though admittedly the ground is uneven under him in that picture.

If there are any closeups or other angles that would be best, I'd be happy to take more. He's quite photogenic.
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Old 28th October 2014   #6
arsn9lea
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

A couple more shots.
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Old 29th October 2014   #7
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

He chomped at some jellied bloodworms last night. Not much of it, but he did take some. I suppose that they were down the gullet before there was a chance to spit them out. Still no interest in regular earthworms, though.



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Old 29th October 2014   #8
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

Since he's a boy I have two possible explanations. One is that he might be constipated. If this is the case, it might be worth waiting to see if he poops, or - please don't ask me why it works, because I have no idea - try temporarily moving him from his tank into a tub or small tank of cool, clean, dechlorinated water. I've found my axxies have...well...relieved themselves quite heavily when I've done this, probably because the water was colder or because they were perhaps a little stressed. I know he has relieved himself before, but what I'm wondering is whether he might have swallowed some sand, since sand can block their gut if they swallow too much.

The other is that he may be about to drop spermatophores. I didn't notice that Jack ever did this before he laid (Toothless has never laid them) but some other owners have reported a 'food strike' before laying.

It does seem to be a boy thing, refusing food. My boys can be picky from time to time and just spit their food out - my girls never refuse to eat. You can try new foods - which it seems you have tried - to see if he'll bite. I sometimes suggest finding out what their favourite food was as a baby and trying this, as it seems to have a kind of 'comforting' effect. Failing this, blackworms are meant to be totally irresistible!

I wouldn't worry about him too much unless he strikes for two weeks or more - well fed axolotls can survive about three weeks without a feed. He looks in good condition for a male - my Tooth and Jack are both more slender than my ladies. I'm sure he'll be chowing down in no time. Keep us posted!



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Old 29th October 2014   #9
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

Thanks for the reassuring words. In truth, I am not 100% positive that he *is* a he, but I assume so because there is some bulge down there even when all is well. The bulge does seem a fair amount bigger now.

I'll have to keep an eye on him - maybe he wasn't fridged long enough to clean everything out?

Thanks again and I'll keep everyone posted.



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Old 29th October 2014   #10
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

No problem. I can't be sure as to sex myself, but the cloaca seems to be the right size and it reaches up to the bottom of the tail. He's also slender and has a much longer tail, which would definitely make me think 'boy.' Girls seem to be egg-shaped, much plumper and shorter, with slightly shorter tails and smaller cloacae. His profile just looks more male than female to me, but I've been wrong before.

As for fridging that would have to be your call. Fridging can really stress them out, and although it seemed to have done him a lot of good the first time around, I don't want to advocate it again in case it stresses him out.

I'd keep an eye on him, but he'll probably be eating again soon. I'd also check his poops to make sure he's not pooping sand, as I noticed you said there might have been more in the container when you took him out compared to when he was first put in there.



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Old 30th October 2014   #11
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

As for earthworms, gave one a good fight, but didn't bother pursuing it when it got away. Most of the time, he has little interest.

After not bothering with the earthworm that got away, he went for most of a small sleeve of bloodworms last night, with me basically squirting them in his mouth. He then got odd acting and started rolling over and rubbing his chin on the sand. A short time later, he ate a shrimp pellet.

At least it seems like he's getting some food in him and I don't see any obvious evidence that it was thrown up later. On the other hand, bloodworms and shrimp pellets wouldn't leave much evidence, anyway.



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Old 31st October 2014   #12
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

I am fairly certain it is a he. Actually how old is the axie? Bear in mind if they are under a year they are going to suddenly get a big bump in the bum if it is a boy.

Pay attention to how often the axie has pooped because they should poop normally every 4-6 days. If they haven't poop in two weeks you have to take action as constipation kills them and often they don't eat because there is no room for the food.



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Old 2nd November 2014   #13
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

We got him in January or February, and he was definitely a lot smaller then, but I don't really know how old he is.



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Old 4th November 2014   #14
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

Here's an update:

Still no evidence of poop for 10-11 days. The last known poop was on October 24 or 25.

His cloaca looks okay. It may be a bit bigger than usual but I don't think it's bad. It is about how it was in the earlier posted photos.

He will now readily snap at a worm but he seems to have trouble swallowing it, regardless of size. After struggling with it a bit, it'll usually squirt out of his mouth onto the ground. He then stares at it, nuzzles it with his snout, and does everything but try to eat it. At least at the time. Some of the time, the worm will later disappear, suggesting that he has success later.

He does not seem to have any problems eating a shrimp pellet. He doesn't go right after it, but when he does, it's one quick gulp and it's down.

Still no evidence of vomited food, so I am assuming that he's keeping it all down. I recognize that it'd be hard to see bloodworms and ground-up shrimp pellets, but I assume I'd see evidence of pieces of earthworm if he threw them up.

Obviously, it's the lack of a bowel movement and his swallowing thing that concern me at this point.



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Old 12th November 2014   #15
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

After still not pooping, I put him in the fridge and started salt baths on Friday, November 7. He pooped a bunch the first night and a bit more the next day. He has had some small flakes/particles of poop each day since. (It's now Tuesday, November 11.)

He looks reasonably okay, though I can't really tell if his cloaca looks any different. It doesn't look much different than the pictures above. From touching the cloaca, it's soft and doesn't feel like there is anything hard pressing against it. You can see the opening but it isn't spread open or anything like that.

He ate a small chunk of earthworm on Sunday, November 9 without hesitation.

He's on his 4th or 5th day in the fridge, depending on how you count. I also understand that it will probably take a day or so to get the water in his fridge container up to the temperature of his usual tank.

How long should I leave him fridged?



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Old 12th November 2014   #16
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Why did you do a salt bath??



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Old 12th November 2014   #17
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

Yes, I should have explained that better. I was concerned about his skin coloration looking light in some places, thinking it might have been a fungus or a bacterial infection of some sort and thinking that it might have been some sort of explanation for his other issues. After going through the salt baths and re-examining his skin outside of the water, I am not sure there was actually anything wrong with his skin. It may have just been a lighting issue.

He doesn't seem to mind the salt baths too much, though I see no point in continuing them at this point.



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Old 16th November 2014   #18
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Default Re: Axel won't eat.

You can take the axie out of the fridge, and put him back in the normal tank, and feed like normal... you just said he poop but don't give a salt bath in this instance since he didn't have anything on him such as fungus. Now you just want to start counting how often it is going to poop again and hope your guy just poops as usual.



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