Hand feeding axolotl issues

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I’ve had my axolotl Oaki for about 4 months now, and I want to transition to constant hand feeding to make him trust me more. The only problem is that Oaki tries to eat anything that moves, including fingers...
I know that axie nips aren’t a problem, it doesn’t hurt me, but I’m scared I might hurt Oaki. I flinch very very easily and flinch when he bites me. One time he let go immediately, but the other time he held on. I want to be able to handle him if needed, and be able to hand feed him, but I don’t want to hurt him when I flinch. Any suggestions would be appreciated, thanks!
 

basilstorm

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The hand feeding is a really good idea to improve trust! You’ll definitely get used to him nipping at your fingers over time, after a week or two I stopped jumping from it and I had the same reaction you when I first started. If he tries to hold on when he nips, use your other hand to lightly tap the side of his body, and he should let go. He might spook and swim away for a minute or two but axie’s aren’t the type to hold grudges. If it helps, you can try feeding him with tweezers first and try to hold your fingers further down the tweezers every day, so you get more used to it. Also, if you wiggle your fingers at the very top of the water you can lure your axie to the top of the tank and feed with just the tips of your fingers submerged, so it’s harder to hurt him if you flinch. One last option is to start by dropping the food from your fingers an inch or two above him, so you’re close to him but not enough that he takes it directly from your hands. Then when you feel more comfortable you can get closer. I think you’ll really like hand feeding once you get used to it, in my case it meant my axie constantly swims around watching me when I’m in the room and he’ll sit and rest on my hand. Definitely improves the bond! I hope you’re able to use some of this and that it works out for you :D
 
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Thank you so much! I’ll start working on it tonight, I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who flinches lol
 
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Update: I’ve switched to dropping the pellets directly in front of him, and now he’s much more interactive (sometimes he forgets about the food altogether and tries to chase my hand!) I’m still working up to him eating out of my hand, because I need to be able to get him out his tank to do a substrate clean (darn detrius worms). Thanks a lot for your advice! Oaki and I really appreciate it!
 
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Just popping in to say that picking up axolotls with your bare hands is not recommended. It can be harmful to their skin, and the process is very vulnerable to accidents.
Even if they're used to it, they can suddenly trash or spook, and before you know it the axolotl is injured.

A soft net or a smaller tub works just as easily and is much safer.
 

basilstorm

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Update: I’ve switched to dropping the pellets directly in front of him, and now he’s much more interactive (sometimes he forgets about the food altogether and tries to chase my hand!) I’m still working up to him eating out of my hand, because I need to be able to get him out his tank to do a substrate clean (darn detrius worms). Thanks a lot for your advice! Oaki and I really appreciate it!
View attachment 84010
I’m glad things are working out! It can take a bit to work up to it but it’ll be rewarding once you’re there! 😁
 
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I agree that using a tub would be easier, but I’m scared that he will jump out, and I could injure him even more than I would if I was holding him. He likes to chase my fingers and follow me around when I approach his tank, and I get plenty of interaction without touching him. Do you have any tips for safely getting him into a tub? Thanks for your input!
 
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  • Axolotl Queen:
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  • MuggleMiChu:
    They are about 2-3 inches long and I have them in a bare bottom tank
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    Thank you so much for the information and advice! They are eating again, they ate a lot today. I think it might have been stress from the move or digesting old food, I also noticed they ate some of the food left in the tank (I removed the rest). I’m going to keep the tank bare bottom.
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