Moving 6 month old (?) to new home

IamLeeCB

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So I’m moving to university soon and I’m lucky enough that my hall of residence allows fish and other water dwelling creatures, so I am bringing my guy Pebble with me. It’s a 8 hour drive down to university, and I’m a staying somewhere overnight that is not my final destination, so he’ll be out of his home for basically a whole day. So far I have a battery’s powered oxygenator for while we’re in the car, and and I plan to keep him in a watertight container inside one of those foam boxes with some cooling pads, but I’m still worried if that’s the right thing to do. I’m also not sure what to do overnight while I’m staying at my friends place, though she’s happy to have him she also has two big dogs that I need to make sure he is safe from and figure out exactly what I’m doing.

Also, the question mark in the title is because I’m really not sure how old he is, I think he’s at least six months since I got him in October and I think he was a couple months old by then (his legs were still developing fully in September) but I’m honestly not sure how to tell since he’s a rescue.

Anyway, I would appreciate some advice on how to safely transport my little guy and nay other tips y’all might have for this new owner. Oh, and just a quick add on, this is my little guy and I realised I don’t actually know if they’re a boy or girl? I know it’s probably hard to tell from a picture but if anyone has some advice on that it would be great.
 

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Murk

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I think the main question is how large the container you're going to move her in is. If it's pretty big (and your water quality is good), one or two days in there won't be a problem at all.
If it's a very small container, you might consider taking some extra clean water with you for a short water change halfway through. I doubt it's necessary, though. For such a small period of time axolotls can handle a lot.


If you have some live plants put them in there - it helps if she has something to grab on to or hide under.

I'm not sure about the oxyginator; I have no experience with those. I'd say it's probably not necessary if your water quality is good to start with, but I'm not an expert on that.
 

IamLeeCB

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Thanks for the advice! It’s a relatively large container, I’d say about half as big as the tank (a 10 gallon) but much shorter. I got the oxygenator on the advice of a friend who works with aquatic animals, I think it’s supposed be used because barely any oxygen will be getting into the water through the layers, though I’m not sure. It dies create a bit of a current, so I think the plant idea is good, pebble does like to hide in things a lot.
 

Murk

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5 gallons should be fine for a day.
I've had axolotls in containers like that a few times (when moving, or when the aquarium broke down), and they don't seem bothered by it too much unless it takes longer than a few days.
I would advice taking the lid off a few times a day, but maybe that's not even necessary with the oxygenator.

I know some people prefer to not feed them a few days in advance so they don't poop while in the container, but personally I expect the fasting bothers them more than the slightly dirtier water. That's up to you, though!
 

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First, gorgeous Axie :) You are doing a fantastic job with them!

So both 8 hours and the over night is absolutely okay. The oxygenator is also a very good idea. Hopefully it is super low powered so as not to create too much current. Either way it is for a relatively short period of time and they while they WILL get stressed out, it wont be for too long. What you are going to want to do is make sure you put their container on the floor in the back seat of your car, as wedged in as possible, to prevent them sloshing about un-necessarily. That is going to be much the same with watching your driving; try to avoid sudden breaking and take your corners with ease :p If you stop for food or something, keep in mind you have a much bigger problem leaving him in the car than even a dog; depending on where you are and the weather, his water could heat up fast and simply rolling down the window wont help enough if it is hot out. I would plan to bring food with you or drive through unless it is cold where you are.

Now for your over night issue! I would suggest putting them at the very back of the counter, away from bright lights, perhaps with a tea-towel over their container and just not drawing attention to them. The towel serves to prevent them from being startled by the dogs, cuts out light AND prevents the dogs from seeing them. You MUST do a LARGE (think 80-100%) water change the next morning with dechlorinated water the same temperature as their current container. Given that I think starving them for a few days before hand is just not necessary since they will STILL create an increase in ammonia with their urine, you will need to change the water for these rapidly climbing levels. Axolotls are dirty creatures :p

Biggest things are to make sure it stays cool, keep it clean, and watch for signs of stress. A plant to hide wont be necessary since it will be covered by the foam box, essentially making it one big cave :) Please keep in mind that with an oxygenator in the water, air will still need to escape as well! By creating oxygen, pressure will continue to increase in the container, which could cause cracks or outright break his container. maybe a small hole at the top would be best :) That is just in theory :)

GENDER! So your 'lotl is too young to tell. While males CAN start to present as young as 6 months, it is an outlier, with 8 months usually being the earliest in males. The finger tips on yours are juuuuust starting to darken so is absolutely not sexually mature and the big problem is that if you think it is a female you really cant be certain of that until 18 months (unless they lay eggs :p) as sometimes males develop late and your female suddenly ends up a boy :p
 

IamLeeCB

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Thanks! This has really helped with my worries! I’m planning to put a few cold packs around him to make sure he stays cold as it is summer where I live and can get very hot, so hopefully he’ll be able to stay cool enough with those! And thank you for replying about his gender! I was having trouble finding information about when and how you can tell so it’s good to know that it will be a while until I will know. It doesn’t really matter too much anyway as I don’t plan on getting him a friend, especially since the tank I have right now is only big enough for one Axolotl. Something else that came up was that my mum and I plan to listen to music/podcasts on our drive down and I’m worried that the sound through the car speakers might bother him. The speakers are right next to where I plan to put him, and since I have some difficulty with hearing we usually have the sound up a bit loud. I don’t know how sensitive to sound Axolotls are but I am reconsidering weather to listen to something or not while we drive.
 

Kitan

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You're very welcome :)

For the sound, the best thing I could suggest is test it :) Before you start driving, check to see if it causes ripples in the water. Remember the styrofoam will absorb some of the vibrations. Just to be certain, you could try stuffing a pillow in front of the speaker to eliminate it, thought it will obviously muffle that speaker. Also keep in mind that the transference of sound will cause some kenetic energy which will cause the water to warm a little quicker. Shouldnt be significant, but the more you can reduce it the better. Again, all just theory on this one :p
 

IamLeeCB

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Just wanted to update you to say that it went well! He got a bit pale and was stressed out on the way there, but once I got him back into his aquarium and safe he sulked for a bit on his rock but seemed perfectly happy within the hour! I ended up putting some cold packs in there next to him, also got with the oxygenator and it turned out well, though the container turned out to be much less watertight than we expected and leaked a fair amount into the styrofoam box this was all in. That was the most worrying moment of the trip but it all turned out well in the end!
 
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