Axolotl neotenic salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum) Amphibian

The axolotl is a salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum) through guessing you might be noticing a slight difference between these critters and other salamanders, no that’s not a decorative headpiece to win the affections of others.

Axolotl facts

The tiny salamander
Axolotl Image Credit

Axolotls the funny-looking wispy filaments surrounding the head of nearly every axolotl are actually external gills. These gills are present because of Ambystoma mexicanum, unlike most other salamanders. Let’s consider how most salamanders develop? The life cycle of the salamander begins with an egg from that egg hatches a juvenile salamander commonly called the larval stage.

During this stage, they’ll have an in-between body with external gills and a dorsal fin until they mature enough to reach adulthood. Fully metamorphosed adults have lungs and breathe air meaning the external gills are no longer needed. They’ll also become terrestrial so they don’t need fins made for movement in the water.

The axolotl
Marine animal Photo Credit

Most axolotls, however, don’t ever technically reach adulthood can you spot some of the larval characteristics in this full-grown axolotl this brings us back to the definition of neoteny which occurs in the larval or juvenile stage of an animal. It is able to reproduce in a sense they never grow up. They’re like the Peter Pan of salamanders in retaining their larval characteristics.

Axolotl habitat

Axolotl Adorable Giant Salamander
Cute animal Image Credit

Axolotls end up spending their whole life in the water this wouldn’t be an issue is the only place they’re found in the world wasn’t being drained for drinking water and contaminated with city pollution. Axolotls are from Mexico living wildly only in the waterways surrounding Mexico City. They were once abundant in lakes choco and Xochimilco but Lake choco no longer exists.

In Lake, Xochimilco is now just a system of canals where 20 years ago scientists were able to locate over 5,000 axolotls in one square mile. They now only count 35 this is why axolotls are listed as critically endangered in the wild and unless something changes really fast it’s possible. We’ll see them go extinct in the wild within our lifetime there are efforts being made to help raise awareness of Ambystoma mexicanum.

Ambystoma mexicanum Photo Credit

While this might not be a long-term solution for wild living axolotls they’re relatively easy to keep and breed in captivity so it’s hopeful that their species has a chance of survival through captive programs something cool about captive kept. They are that most of them can be traced back to a group of axolotls that were shipped to Paris for research purposes in the 1860s scientific research isn’t typically pulling individuals from the wild.

Diet of Axolotls

Axolotl facts
Axolotls Image Credit

Axolotls are researched because they can regenerate lost limbs and they’re resistant to cancer among other awesome traits in the wild. Axolotls have limited natural predators including herons though introduced large fish species such as carp now prey on them. In more recent decades axolotls themselves are mainly carnivorous eating fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and insects.

On this diet, they grew up to be afoot in length while living axolotls are usually dark in color with mottled markings but color variants are common especially among captive kept individuals males and females will mate about a year or two after hatching. The females will produce hundreds of individual eggs to be laid on aquatic vegetation. The babies hatch after two to three weeks and they’re completely on their own from that point onward.

Axolotl lifespan

Cute Axolotl in Aquarium
Axolotl Photo Credit

Axolotl can live up to 15 years though half that length is more of an average something observed in captive. Ambystoma mexicanum is that when a rare individual does undergo metamorphosis. Thus losing their external gills their life expectancy is actually decreased the Aztec language is where the name of axolotls originated roughly translated it means water dog a myth regarding axolotls speaks of an Aztec God who transformed into an axolotl in order to escape his brother intent on killing him, don’t know they do look pretty godly to us.

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