Very Aggressive Behavior in an Axolotl!?

blueberlin

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Hi all,

A friend of mine here in Germany has an axolotl named Hazel. Hazel is agressive!? She was kept with her sister Beppina in a tank until she started attacking Beppina - biting Beppina repeatedly in the stomach. At first we considered that it might be the confusion of a feeding frenzy, or the first, confused signs of mating behavior. The two were separated whiloe Beppina healed. When they were put back together again, Hazel immediately attacked Beppina again!

Hazel is now alone in a tank of her own. She attacks plants - bites them, shakes her head with the plant in her mouth, spits it out, and takes another bite from the plant, repeat process. Last night Hazel attacked the air filter, leaving shreds of it everywhere.

Hazel is definitely an axolotl, and also not from any recent crossbreed. She is fed exclusively with live foods from a nearby pond. The other axolotls are fed the same foods and do not exhibit this behavior.

Has anyone heard of this behavior in axolotls? Is there anything that can be done? It would be a shame if Hazel has to spend her life in solitary confinement.

Thanks,

-Eva
 

Ganymede264

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As I take care some pets such as some fish and 2 pug dogs, I'd like to give a small opinion on animals' personalities based on my own experience. I reckon that each fish or even an animal like a dog does have his/her own personality, hence two animals, which belong to the same family, can have completely different "personalities" . For example: an asian arowana is actually an aggressive and highly territorial fish according to general definition on arowana's behaviour. In reality, that fact likely depends on each individual fish.
In my case, I currently raise two asian arowanas (Green and Red Tail Golden) and they have completely different characteristics. My Red Tail Golden is exactly the same as what the general definition of an asian arowana is, as he is very aggressive and doesn't like any other fish getting closed to him. In fact, he once had eaten a black ghost knife fish, and about a week ago he attacked my iridescent shark and my axolotl which I've just brought home. He does accept fish that are shy, passive and slow and don't compete with him for food such as discus fish, that's why I call him Mr. Tyrant. Oh, I also once let a big pleco stay with the Tyrant and apparently he killed the poor fish! Strangely, one day I brought home a small albino bichir which was as small as the black ghost knife fish being eaten before and this bichir was even smaller than my axololt, but my Red Tail Golden got along with this bichir very well, they swam together, the bichir even climbed upon the Red Tail Golden's head and they didn't fight during the feeding time either :rolleyes:
On the other hand, my Green arowana has a pretty friendly and outgoing behaviour. He can stay with any fish (well except with his own kind - the general definition says so as well; I tried to put 2 arowanas together and the result was that my Green arowana had been attacked terribly by that Tyrant :(). My Green arowana currently stays with 4 parrot fish (all a lot smaller than him), a small pleco and the iridescent shark ; they all get along pretty well :happy:
Overall, it is likely nothing wrong that your friend's axolotl has an aggressive behaviour, but this doesn't mean that all axolotls have to be aggressive. Once a creature has this behaviour, it is best for it to stay alone. Maybe your friend should temporarily seperate the two of them for a while, and then put them together to see whether it works!

Cheers,
 

ianclick

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Hi Eva.

There is some eveidence that links colour to behaviours. In that wild types are seemingly more aggressive to of colour types. Also age and size can have an impact. Juvenile axolotls are more aggressive and don't forget that young axies will cannabilize eachother.

But attacking plants and air fiters, who knows. It doesn't sound like your typical axolotl behaviour.

Good Luck
 

Darkmaverick

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Hi Eva,

Was wondering if your friend's tank setup includes plenty of hiding places. Also did he or she feed the axies sufficiently? You would have probably checked this in advance but i guess hunger and lack of hiding places could contribute to the aggression. Also is the aggressor a wild type? Its just bizarre that despite growing up together, through the cannibalistic juvenile phase and all that she would choose to be violent in the adult stage. Maybe she is just getting erm.. cranky...:p

Cheers
 

blueberlin

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Hi fellas,

Hazel is indeed a beautiful wild type, hatched on May 10, 2008. Her keeper is experienced with axolotls (he raised Hazel and Beppina from eggs) and Hazel certainly has everything she could need. Her tank at the moment has plants and hides, but no substrate (that will change soon). She is currently housed alone for the safety of the other axolotls. As I wrote, now Hazel has turned her aggressive attentions to inanimate objects. I should add that she also bites the hand that feeds her, attacking her keeper at ever chance.

We are all familiar with the "panicky" feeding behavior that some axololts, particularly when young, exhibit. This is not what Hazel is doing. She literally attacks other axolotls - lunging at them and biting them in the stomach, the ribs, that area between the front and back legs - hard enough to leave open wounds. She does this immediately when put together with other axolotls; no food scents necessary. And again, now that she is alone, she has taken to attacking plants, air pump, anything.

I had considered that perhaps Hazel could have a psychiatric problem, a mental disability, how do you say it? Just born "not right in the head". I discarded that thought because it seemed to me that an axolotl is not necessarily highly developed enough to have a psyche. Perhaps that is just human arrogance, though? Another thought, sort of in the same vein: Hazel's keeper tells me that Hazel gets almost twice as much food as her sister, Beppina, because Hazel never seems to get full or fat and the next day looks like she hasn't eaten for a week. Could there be a chemical or hormonal imbalance at cause?

-Eva
 

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Hi Eva,

Psychological/pyschiatric problems can definitely occur in our common cat and dogs. However, i have not heard/read of that occuring in ampibians. I would think that being a wildtype, she is naturally already more predisposed to being more dominant and aggressive. After she has learnt that her tyrannical ways have gotten her extra food and space, she may have then conditioned to continue behaving as such, in a vicious cycle.

It is unlikely to be an environmental problem, since the owner is experienced and the other axie is not displaying the same signs. I would say that axolotl is genetically predisposed to aggression, reinforced by conditioning/experience, and is just purely mean and cranky in personality. Perhaps she has dreams of being a gladiator in another life.

Cheers:p
 

TheDoyel

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That is quite odd. Then again, I did have a tiger salamander once that would bite anything that moved. I had to be quite careful while cleaning out his day. Almost like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park, slow movements and the fingers stay intact.

However, how clear are the eyes? No apparent cataracts of any sort? You also wouldn't happen to know of her lineage? Preferably looking for any blind/eyeless mutants. I'm just thinking that perhaps as she matured some genes began expressing themselves fully. The "attacks" could simply be an acting out of the panic due to poor eyesight, or even an attempt to feed. As to the shredding of the air filter...that boggles me. She doesn't have a birthmark in the shape of three sixes does she?
 

blueberlin

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The question of blindness is interesting indeed. Here's one in return: How would you go about testing an axolotl for blindness? Hazel comes out to the glass when her keeper enters the room, but of course she could be detecting his presence through other senses; namely by sensing the vibrations of his steps.

Any suggestions?

-Eva
 

ferret_corner

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What about one of those laser toys? I don't recall using it on the axolotls but my son used it on the tiger sals and they avidly chased it around their tank. There is no vibration, no smell, just sight of something unusual. I've used it on my fish too. Just focus the dot in front of them on the tank floor and jiggle it till they see it. Test it on the normal one too, see if she reacts to it.

Now I have to find my kids laser toy so I can try it out on mine.

sharon
 

blueberlin

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Yes, Hazel's keeper had the same idea. Here are the experiments he conducted to test Hazel for blindness:

Experiment 1: He sat motionless for 15 minutes in front of Hazel's tank, then wiggled his finger about 1 cm in front of the glass where Hazel was sitting. Hazel reacted immediately by turning her head and then jumping toward the glass, snapping.

Expermient 2: Laser pointer for cats. The spot on the floor did not interest Hazel at all, but she did notice the spot when it was at the top of the water and followed it with her head.

Experiment 3: Flashlight: Hazel followed the beam outside of the tank with her head.

Expermint 4: Laser pointer again; now Hazel is fed up with the laser point and as soon as it appears on the water's surface, she swims up and snaps at it. If the point is moved, Hazel chases it and tried to eat it.

So we reckon the girl ain't blind, in any case.

P.S. No markings of sixes or anything other than what is usual for a wild type. :p

-Eva
 
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