I Can Has Cheezburger?

Viral Thread: The Incredible Story Of A Morphed Axolotl

  • 1
    Handwriting - GoiLum OLLUM

    "I suddenly realized that while I post facts about Gollum every day, I never properly introduced him. Or explained what the heck happened to him and why I share him here every day. So, here goes."

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  • 2

    "This is what Gollum looked like when I bought him. He was your classic axolotl. Webbed feet, fluffy gills, and a cute little smile. As with all axolotls, he was supposed to remain aquatic for his entire life. 

    Axolotls do not secrete growth hormone into the bloodstream, so they don't get the message to "grow up." They retain all of their juvenile charactaristics throughout adulthood."

  • 3

    "Gollum did not get that memo. One day I noticed that he was looking really "sick." I quarantined him from his tankmates and within a week, he looked like the above picture. No gills, no webbed feet, and he didn't want water anymore at all.

    This is incredibly, very very rare. Like, one in every multi-thousand. I had heard of it, but I had been reassured that it was so rare that it would never happen to any of mine."

  • 4

    "Even his skull and mouth changed shape. I learned later that this was because axolotls don't have fused jaws. They open their mouths wide and swallow food whole...but salamanders have fused bones for chewing."

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  • 5

    "His gills started to shrink into his head. It was SUPER weird because even after the gills disappeared and skin grew over, the skin would pulse like he was trying to breathe there. In reality, his respiratory system was being rerouted to lungs. Axolotls have extremely underdeveloped lungs...Gollum decided to finish his. He breathes exclusively through them now."

  • 6

    "His fins started to reabsorb into his body. He lost his tadpole-like tail and his caudal fin and developed a thinner tail that wasn't really made for swimming anymore."

  • 7

    "He would keep his arms out to the sides like this all the time during the transformation. I learned later that it was because his bones were shortening and widening so that he could bear his own weight when he walked."

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  • 8

    "He started sticking his head out of the water to breathe. Now, if he were left in water, he would likely drown."

  • 9

    "Today he is a silly land-muppet. (That's a worm in his mouth)"

  • 10
    There was a problem rendering this video - it may have been deleted.

    "We're currently working on buidling him a 4 ft long terrarium!"

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  • 11

    "A lot of people have asked me if he is a tiger salamander. The answer to that lies in his looks. While he IS a salamander, he doesn't have the head shape, coloring, or short stubby toes of a tiger."

  • 12

    "I've also been asked if he would live a shorter life. I've been talking to an expert on the matter who has successfully kept morphs for 10+ years. He says that with proper care, Gollum will likely live out a full life. The issue with most people is that they just don't know how to care for the animals properly."

  • 13
    Terrestrial animal

    "I can definitely understand this. When Gollum changed, I was shocked. I had no idea how to take care of him. There are no guides on the internet. Just speculative care. I recently learned that Gollum's sister also morphed, but she starved to death because her person could not figure out how to get her to eat in her new body. 

    From what this researcher tells me, it is all too common. Morphed axolotls are so incredibly rare that there really isn't good documentation on what their lives are like. Then they die from improper care, and people say "oh well that must have been their natural state.""

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  • 14

    "I didn't ask for a morphed axolotl. I didn't seek one out or try to force him to morph (in fact, every owner I have ever met has been utterly shocked when theirs did too) But I have a few goals I want to accomplish now."

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    "I want to share him with the world. I want to document how I care for him so that others can follow suit and expand the lifespan of their own morphs."

  • 16

    "I want to give Gollum himself the best life possible. He deserves that much."

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  • 17

    "And I want to be there for other metamorphs when their owners decide that they can't care for them properly. 

    This girl will be arriving tomorrow! She is a spontaneous morph out of a clutch of 70 eggs. Just like Gollum, she came as a massive surprise to her breeder. She reached out to me and asked if I would take her, and of course I said yes. I will welcome her and give her the same care that Gollum gets, and she will be a part of our metamorph features as well. She will help teach people how these animals live."

  • 18

    "I never imagined that I would become a researcher of salamanders, let alone a sanctuary for one. Yet here I am, sifting through every scrap of documentation that I can find to learn more about these animals to share with the public. 

    Here I am building a giant terrarium and feeding worms to them every day, and proudly showing Gollum to the people who have come to love him. 

    And that's the story. Thanks for reading! 

    Follow salamanderwithasign on Instagram to learn more about Gollum and our new arrival. I try to post everything I learn."


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