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Last updated date: 23rd May 2024
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What is Axolotl?

The Mexican walking fish, or axolotl, is a neotenic salamander similar to the tiger salamander. While it is often referred to as a "walking fish," the axolotl is an amphibian, not a fish. The species was first discovered in several lakes, including Lake Xochimilco, which lies beneath Mexico City. Axolotls are unique to amphibians in that they do not go through metamorphosis to reach adulthood. Adults remain aquatic and gilled rather than taking to the ground.

Axolotls are not to be confused with waterdogs, the larval stage of the closely related tiger salamanders (A. tigrinum and A. mavortium), which are found throughout most of North America and may become neotenic at times. Mudpuppies (Necturus spp.) are fully aquatic salamanders that are not closely related to Axolotls but have a superficial resemblance.

Due to urbanisation in Mexico City and the resulting water contamination, as well as the introduction of invasive species such as tilapia and perch, wild Axolotls were on the verge of extinction as of 2010. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) lists them as critically endangered in the wild, with a declining population, and as an endangered species under the IUCN's CITES treaty. Because of their capacity to regenerate limbs, Axolotls are often used in scientific research. Axolotls were a staple of the Aztec diet and were sold as food in Mexican markets.

Axolotl- Free PDF Download

The axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) is a salamander of the Ambystomatidae (order Caudata) that is unique for the permanent preservation of larval traits such as external gills. The species is only found in Lake Xochimilco, Mexico City, and is categorised as highly endangered. Any full-grown larva of Ambystoma tigrinum (tiger salamander) that has not yet lost its external gills is also referred to as an axolotl.

Axolotl populations have dropped significantly as a result of a combination of habitat loss (primarily caused by continuing development in Mexico City), water pollution, and invasive species. Ecologists believe that there are less than 1,000 wild Axolotls, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has listed the axolotl as a critically endangered species since 2006. Axolotls can be bred in captivity and marketed as pets or used for food. Captive populations have been transferred into remnant areas on occasion to augment natural numbers.

Axolotls are unquestionably adorable... yet strange, with their hairless heads, button eyes, and gummy smiles. Aside from their big bodies and absurdly short limbs, they have some rather outlandish headgear in the style of six feathery gills that frame their cute infant faces.

Their unique look reflects the axolotl's status as the animal kingdom's Peter Pan. They never truly mature because they are 'neotenous,' which implies that, unlike most frogs, they never develop into lung-breathing, land-dwelling adults. Instead, they maintain juvenile characteristics including gills, tails, and a predisposition for aquatic life.

A Salamander Species

The axolotl, a salamander species, is highly endangered and only found in Mexico City's Lake Xochimilco. Captive populations, on the other hand, are prospering in labs throughout the world as researchers investigate the axolotl's astonishing capacity to regenerate complete limbs, pieces of brain, and spinal cord segments when wounded.

Genes will be at the core of this superpower, and scientists deciphered the axolotl's DNA in the hope that we will one day be able to harness it for ourselves. They discovered that the genome has 32 billion DNA base pairs, making it ten times bigger than the human genome and the largest animal genome ever decoded.

Axolotl is a salamander with a very distinct genetic make-up. They keep most of their larval traits throughout adulthood due to an uncommon condition known as 'neoteny,' thus they exhibit all the characteristics of a tadpole – from feathery gills to a long, quill-like dorsal fin – even when completely developed.

Axolotls are Predators

Axolotls are predators that feed on worms, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and certain tiny fish. They were at the top of the food chain within their distribution range until recent decades, but invasive species of perch and tilapia pose a danger and have contributed to a reduction in their populations.

Axolotls, which are sometimes misidentified as fish, are exceptional among amphibians in that they spend their whole lives in water. Because of its appearance and preferred environment, Axolotls are also known as Mexican walking fish.

It's difficult to realise that Axolotls belong to the same amphibian family as salamanders. Appearance, anatomy, habitat - there's a lot that distinguishes them from newts, olms, and fire salamanders, and it's simple to understand why they're commonly characterised as 'walking fish.'

Let's Have a Look at What Distinguishes Axolotls From Other Salamander Species:

  • Axolotls are generally far larger in size as compared to many other salamander species, expanding to be much larger than creatures found on land.

  • The axolotl is exclusively found in Lake Xochimilco in the Valley of Mexico, as well as in Mexico City's canals and waterways.

  • They live in a high-altitude body of water because they are neotenic. This is peculiar to Axolotls, while other salamanders have a considerably larger range.

  • Axolotls, unlike most other salamander species, spend their whole lives in water. After reaching full adulthood, certain species have been known to come onto land, although the most of their lives are spent beneath the surface, breathing through gills.

  • For millennia, Axolotls have been an integral element of Mexican culture. According to local legend, the creature is an incarnation of an Aztec god who disguised himself as a salamander in order to avoid sacrifice. Unfortunately, they're also considered a delicacy in Mexico City, with overfishing leading to their inclusion on the highly endangered species list.

FAQs on Axolotl

1. Is Axolotls a fish?

Axolotl is a salamander with a highly distinct genetic composition. Axolotls, which are sometimes misidentified as fish, are exceptional among amphibians in that they spend their whole lives in water. Because of its appearance and preferred environment, Axolotls are also known as Mexican walking fish. Axolotls have the ability to regenerate (recreate) different portions of their bodies if they are lost or injured. Axolotls have the ability to regrow lost limbs, kidneys, hearts, and lungs. The axolotl is one of the most studied salamanders in the world due to its remarkable regeneration ability.

2. Where is the Axolotl Larva Found?

They're mostly found in the Xochimilco lake complex near Mexico City, and they're different from most other salamanders in that they don't live in water all of the time.

3. Why are Axolotls illegal in California?

Axolotls are banned in California not because they are endangered, but because they are considered "detrimental species" and pose a threat to native wildlife. Axolotls cannot be imported from other nations into other states, such as New Mexico.

4. How Often Should Axolotls be Fed?

The amount to feed depends on the axolotl's size, maturity level, and water temperature. Since axolotls take two to three days to digest their food, they only need to be fed two to three times a week.

5. How Do Axolotls Die?

One of the most common causes of axolotl death is poor water quality, which may occur without the owner's knowledge. It occurs as a result of carelessness. Although a filter is needed, some owners prefer to keep their axolotls in tanks without one.