STATUS IN THE WILD: Critically Endangered
PHYSICAL FEATURES AND CHARACTERISTICS
Axolotls have four pigmentation genes that when mutated create different color variants. The normal wild type animal is brown or tan with gold speckles and an olive undertone. They can, however, be commonly found in their albino form in the wild, much more than most other species. They have three sets of gills on the outside of their heads. They are frequently mistaken for the tadpole form of their closest relative, the tiger salamander.
LIFESTYLE AND REPRODUCTION
Axolotls are unusual among amphibians in that they reach adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis. Instead of developing lungs and taking to the land, adults remain aquatic and gilled. Axolotls have incredible healing and regenerative abilities. They heal quickly and are even able to regrow lost limbs and gills. Because of these amazing abilities, they have been and continue to be highly studied by medical researchers.
The axolotl is only native to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in central Mexico. Unfortunately for the axolotl, these two lakes have gone under major changes. Lake Chalco no longer exists because it was drained to avoid periodic flooding, and Lake Xochimilco remains a remnant of its former self, existing mainly as canals.
They spend a lot of their time hiding under dead logs, rocks, and water foliage. They prefer shadowy places to open water.
The axolotl is carnivorous, consuming small prey like worms, insects, and small fish in the wild. Axolotls locate food by smell and will “snap” at any potential meal, sucking the food into their stomachs with vacuum force.