Axolotl: Ambystoma mexicanum
Distribution and Habitat
Axolotls are only found in Lake Xochimilco, below Mexico City, Mexico.
The Axolotl is 100% aquatic, living in a fresh water environment.
Axolotls are a neotenic salamander, meaning, they remain in their larva stage and don’t change. They are known as the “walking fish”, but they are closely related to the Tiger Salamander. Adults range in size from five to seventeen inches. They have a variety of colors, including grey, shades of brown, yellow and red. They also have harlequin mixtures of colors and patterns. Albino individuals are only found in captivity, not in the wild. They look like large tadpoles, with short legs and prominent gills. Each side of their head has three branch-like gills. Although they develop lungs, they use their feathery, external gills to extract oxygen from water, and can also gulp air from the surface by opening and closing the bottom part of their mouths. Females have larger bodies than males. On their short legs, there are four digits on the front feet and five digits on the back feet. They have a cloaca, a common opening into which the reproductive and urinary systems open. They are able to regenerate and heal their legs very quickly, growing back 100%. This makes them valuable for scientific research. Axolotls can live up to 15 years.
Axolotls are unusual because they are capable of reproduction in their larval state, called neoteny.
Axolotls are able to regenerate their limbs quickly and heal very effectively. This makes them valuable scientific research tools.
Axolotls are nocturnal. They rest during the day on the bottom substrate with their gills splayed. They move slowly and may surface occasionally to take a breath of air.