What is an Axolotl?
An axolotl is a tiny, aquatic amphibian native to the Mexico City. It is a salamander that can regenerate its body parts. It is known by the names Mexican walking fish and closely related to the tiger salamanders. The axolotl is often confused with water-dogs as the larval stage of these species are closely related to tiger salamanders. The scientific name of an axolotl is Ambystoma Mexicanum. Although axolotl rarely seen in the wild. A survey of the year 1998, described 6000 documented wild axolotls, none found in the wild, according to a study in the year 2014.
Also read about bald head monkey.
Mexican Walking Axolotl:
Though the axolotl called walking fish, it is not an amphibian rather than a fish. The Mexican axolotl spends its entire life underwater. An adult axolotl is 6 to 8 inches long. However, an average axolotl is 9 inches long and weighs around 8 pounds.
Four genes control the colors of these amphibians; they can occur difference in their pigment patterns. The standard colors observed in them are black or brown with green or gold spots. Some of them are white axolotl as they lack pigment in their body. The white axolotl is known to be originated from a mutant axolotl.
As axolotls exhibit neoteny, that makes them keep young looking as though they are mature enough to reproduce. As an adult, they never grow out of their aquatic nature like other salamanders. They build their lungs and still contain their feathery outer gills that grow from their heads.
Mexican walking axolotls are not able to grow their teeth, so they suck their food. The thin fiber area present on their gills increases the surface area for respiration.
Where do Axolotl Live?
Axolotls are found only in the Lake Xochimilco which is a UNESCO heritage site in the south of Mexico City. They had used to swim in the Lake Chalco, in the central Mexico City before the lake had drained. Since the lake Xochimilco has been transformed into a series of canals, axolotls are now hard to see. As these species are a member of the tiger salamanders, they prefer to habitat in a high altitude body of water surrounded by the terrestrial environment.
Also read interesting chimpanzee facts.
What do Axolotls Eat?
An axolotl feeds on such food that can fit in its mouth like small fish, snails, worms, and other tiny amphibians. They locate their food by smell and snap at it with potential and suck the food into their stomach with vacuum force.
The species can regenerate most of its body parts, including limbs, skin, jaws, spinal cords, and even some parts of their brain. The reproductive season between the axolotls takes place in spring. The mating season has determined by the length of the day and the temperature of the water.
Females can release 300 to 1100 eggs in per mating season. The newly born has external gills, tail and two projections on both the sides of the head. As these axolotls babies grow the gills more substantial, and limbs begin to develop. In a year axolotls reach to its sexual maturity.
Are Axolotls Salamanders? (Aquatic Salamander)
Axolotls are neotenic salamanders and are members of tiger salamanders. It is said that axolotls got their name from the words ‘Atl’ means water, and ‘axolotl’ meaning dog. When the Aztecs settled in the valley of Mexico in the 13th century, they found a giant salamander living around the island where they build their capital. They named this salamander after their god of fire and lightning. Axolotls said to be transformed into an aquatic salamander to hide.
The average lifespan of axolotl in the wild is between 10 to 12 years while it can survive up to 15 years in the captivity.
Also read about harpy eagle lifespan.
Axolotl vs Mudpuppy:
Like axolotl, a mudpuppy is a fully grown salamander although the two species are not closely related to each other. Mudpuppy can turn into tiger salamanders, but an axolotl cannot. Both the species are entirely different in shape, size, color, pattern, lifespan, and bone structure.
Are Axolotl Endangered?
According to the IUCN, the species had classified as critically endangered. Significant threats have been their habitat loss, environmental pollution, tourism, and invasion of larger species. Axolotls had sold in the market of Mexico for their meat. Even in the restaurants in Japan, the axolotl served deep-fried.
According to a study, the population of the Mexican amphibian has dropped down to about 90 percent. Leaving behind only 700 to 1200 axolotls.