Axolotl

Axolotl Facts
Size 6-18 in (15-45 cm)
Speed Unknown
Weight 2-7 oz (60-200 g)
Lifespan 10-20 years
Food Worms, crabs, fish
Predators Birds, fishes
Habitat Mexico
Class Amphibians
Order Salamander
Family Mole salamanders
Scientific name Ambystoma mexicanum
Characteristics Feather-like gill rakers

Looking at an Axolotl, you do not know exactly what to say. “Oh, isn't it sweet!” or “Ugh, creepy!”? The axolotl resembles a monstrously over-sized tadpole, but it actually is a nocturnal salamander. Salamanders, like frogs and gymnophiona, are amphibians. We generally know the white to pink colored axolotl with pink gill rakers, which actually is the albino variant (albinos lack color pigments). Its natural color is more of a dark gray or brown.

An axolotl as a pet - is that possible? Yes! Our pet section provides a detailed pet profile for the Axolotl!

Axolotl Axolotl - Photo: Sergio Gutierrez Getino/Shutterstock

What a Weird Name!

Axolotl is an Aztec word. "Atl" means "water" and "xolotl" is the name of an Aztec god and can also mean "monster". So you could translate axolotl as “water monster”. Some people pronounce it like “aksolotol”, while others say “asholotol”.

At Home in Mexico

Axolotls can only be found in the Xochimilco lake, the Chalco lake, and in some waters around Mexico City – apart from home aquariums all over the world. They love cool, oxygen-rich water.

Axolotl Axolotl - Photo: Lapis2380/Shutterstock

A Lifetime as Larva

Even though the axolotl is growing during its entire life, it always remains a larva due to its thyroid gland. This organ normally produces hormones (neurotransmitters), but the axolotl’s gland doesn’t work properly. It particularly lacks the hormone that would help the axolotl to develop into an adult salamander. If an axolotl gets artificially supplied with the hormone, it will actually transform. But it will often only live for 4-5 years. As a larva, it can live to be up to 20 years old.

New Brain? No Problem!

We know that crabs can regrow body parts. But the axolotl can regrow more than just limbs. It can completely regrow whole and functional organs and even parts of its brain. How does it do this? Scientists would love to know, and are busy trying to find out.

Reproduction

In their natural habitat, axolotls reproduce in the spring. The female lays between 80 and 800 eggs on the leaves of underwater plants. They hatch after 15-20 days.

Axolotl Axolotl - Photo: Sombra/Shutterstock

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