"I think social media might have something to do with it." Credits: Newshub
Forget English bulldogs and Labradoodles, it’s axolotls that are a new favourite pet – but as a result New Zealand pet shelters are being swamped with them. And some shelters are blaming their popularity on TikTok and Minecraft.
They’re cute and a bit weird and they’ve done what an influencer can only dream of – they’ve gone viral.
Axolotl TikTok videos have amassed millions of views and their popularity is beginning to have an effect.
Dunedin Amphibian Reptile Rescue Centre’s Amelia Seales told Newshub she’s seen the interest in axolotls spike over the past 10 years.
"I think social media might have something to do with it."
Danni Mokomoko from the Wellington Amphibian and Reptile Rescue said one popular video game is to blame too.
"The popularity is great, it’s caused by certain elements such as Minecraft."
Adding to TikTok, one of the world’s most popular video games, Minecraft now also features amphibians.
One TikTok user told her followers "my axolotls are gay, and they are in love".
And just as well because the straight ones can breed a lot of little axolotls. That’s part of the problem, as people marvel at their quirkiness online, buy them and then realise it’s not always playtime.
"They inadvertently put two axolotls together not knowing the sex of them or the gender and the next thing they have 3-4-500,000 eggs themselves."
Seales’ rescue business currently has over 2000 axolotls.
"I haven’t counted them and I haven’t attempted to count them."
She said they’re costly and complex to care for, with many ending up in shelters.
"They are very hard to rehome."
But the Wellington shelter disagrees and said their popularity has been a good thing.
"The popularity is great, it helps rehome the ones that we get in."
But both amphibian experts urge anyone considering acquiring an axolotl to listen up.
"They’re quite mysterious animals but then again they’re also very boring," said Seales.
"If you’re interested, do your research, make sure of your ongoing costs," Mokomoko said.
Because axolotl babies can live up to 25 years old.