My So Charmed Life
An Interview with a MOST Unusual Pet: Meet Cookie, the Axolotl!
SoCharmed: I am so happy for everyone to meet my new friend and special blog guest, Cookie, the axolotl. I ran across them on Instagram and… well… I just fell in love with their smile! I thought it’d be fun to get together to chat and hope you’ll enjoy this interview. Yay!
Cookie, thank you so much for agreeing to meet up to chat! I must admit you are the first axolotl I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to. For the uninitiated amongst us can you give us a little basic background about yourself? Are you a fish? A baby dinosaur? The cutest little monster ever? Just what are you?
Cookie: Hi! Why yes, I AM the cutest little monster ever but I am actually an amphibian salamander. It’s okay to Axolotl questions! Ha!
Some people even call me and my friends “water puppies”! We have the best personalities and actually love people and do tricks for them. I live in the water full time, unlike a frog or other lizards that can live outside of water and sunbathe in the warm sun and I actually prefer colder water and night time the best. Axolotl’s have very poor eyesight since we mostly live the dark and we’re actually natives of Mexico! Ole!
SC: Haha! I love a friend who can drop a good pun. So, I always bring snacks to interviews, but I must admit, I just didn’t know what in the world you might like to eat. You are so adorable, I bet you like candy, right? My favorite is Twizzlers!
C: My favorite candy is big, fat juicy earth worms! (I only eat every other day!) I used to eat bloodworms when I was a babylotl because I was too small for the big worms! I’m sure if I was able to eat candy, it would be gummy worms!
Here’s a video of me eating. I have to be hand fed with tongs because I can’t see my food unless it’s right in front of my face.
SC: Oh, I find gummy worms delicious too. I wonder if I might be part Axolotl! Cookie, I hope this is not too private or embarrassing, but I heard a rumor that no one quite knows just yet if you were born a male or female and that’s why I’m using they/them pronouns. When will we all find out?
C: What are pronouns?! I haven’t decided what I want to be yet since I’m only a year old. Sometimes we don’t know axolotl genders until we are about 18 months old. My humans have been trying to figure me out for months and they still don’t know either so right now, I just identify as a water puppy.
SC: Right, that makes sense. Most people have plain old (boring!) puppies and kitties as pets. What qualities make you an extra special pet? Do you have any super-powers you can share with us?
C: Yes! Axolotls can regenerate limbs if they are ever “amputated” and we are 99% more resistant to cancer cells than humans and scientists think we might carry the cure for cancer one day! There are some of us that can also glow in the dark! It can only be seen under UV light and the axolotl must have the GFP gene. This is a recessive gene that can be passed from generation to generation. GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) allows the Axolotl to glow under UV light. When the Axolotl has less pigment, they will glow brighter like my friend pictured below.
SC: Wow, that is pretty amazing indeed. I wish I could glow in the dark!
SC: Speaking of superpowers, I heard a couple of Super Heroes take really good care of you. I think they are all grown up now; do you have a more recent picture of them you can share with us?
C: Sure, here’s a current picture of my besties, Jackson (12) and Carson (almost 11).
SC: Whoa, they sure are grown up. Do you ever get lonely for the company of another axolotl? There are rumors that axolotls don’t really play well with others. Is this true, Cookie? You look too gentle to fight.
C: It’s not completely true, but we will fight and nip at each other. I have never been roommates with another axolotl so I wouldn’t know. If we have to share a tank, it’s best we are the same gender and the same size to grow up with. I’m pretty content staring at my cute little self in the corner of my tank when I’m not interacting with my humans or busy eating.
SC: I understand that, I like my alone time too. How did you come to live with your family? If someone wants to bring an axolotl home for a pet, where should they go to find one?
C: My family found me through a reputable axolotl breeder in Indiana, Strohl’s Herptiles and they shipped me in the mail! The breeder made sure I was nice and comfy on my trip to my new home.
If your human friends are interested in bringing home an axolotl, tell them to do their research and prepare their tanks well in advance or else we can get very sick and die if the conditions aren’t right for us. We are very sensitive to temperature, oxygen, bacteria, lighting conditions and even the decorations that you put in our tanks. We learned some very hard lessons, so please do your research well in advance and prepare your tank at least a month or two before your axolotl’s arrival to create the perfect nitrate/nitrite and bacteria conditions. Watch lots of tutorials from experienced axolotl care takers. Our skin is also extremely sensitive, so please do not touch us very much. We do like to bump heads with your fingers and taste them (but don’t worry, we won’t bite…we don’t have teeth!) Sometimes I like to crawl up into my dad’s hand…he’s very gentle. Just be sure to wash your hands without soap extremely well before giving us a light, quick touch. Our skin is like a fish’s, so removing the slime coating on us is not good for our health.
SC: Thanks for all that great info. It’s definitely important for humans to be very responsible in adopting such an unusual pet. Cookie, thank you again for being so cute and fun and willing to share about yourself. The world can seem so stressful, but you really appear to have a happy and peaceful outlook! Do you have any advice for our readers on how to navigate the ups and downs of life?
C: If you see someone without a smile, just give them one of yours…it’s what I do!
SC: That is a great idea, and I’m going to try that. Thank you again and thanks so much to Jackson, Carson, and their mom, Niki, for being so cool!