Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
Animal type: Amphibian
Diet: Worms, insects, crustaceans and small fishes
Size: 15–45 cm
Conservation status: Critically Endangered (Population decreasing)
The Axolotls are unforgettable animals. These curious looking amphibians have large heads and bodies with tiny feet. They always seem to have a smile on their face.
There’s more to these living fossils. Here are four curious facts about these amphibians.
- Axolotls come in a range of colours
You’ll see axolotls in different colours: green, brown, white and even yellow. Wild Axolotls are normally greenish brown or black.
The white ones which we usually see in aquariums are leucistic, which means there is partial lost of pigmentation. These white Axolotls are not albinos because they have black eyes.
Albino Axolotls have red eyes and can be found in the wild in very rare cases.
- Wild Axolotls are critically endangered and can only be found in a specific location.
Axolotls are only found in the lake Xochimilco complex near Mexico City. They are critically endangered as they face threats such as habitat degradation and the introduction of pest species, collection for the aquarium trade, and being taken from the wild as a source of food for local people.
In 1998, there were 6,000 documented wild Axolotls, but by 2014 researchers were unable to find a single animal. Thankfully, a small number of Axolotls have been found since then.
- Axolotls “never grow up”.
Axolotls grow bigger and will become sexually mature but they retain their juvenile features throughout their adult life.
Unlike tadpoles which breathe through their gills and mature into frogs which breathe using lungs, Axolotls develop lungs as they grow but they continue to use their gills and stay in the water.
In rare cases, the Axolotls do progress to maturity and emerge from the water. The gills are absorbed and the mature Axolotl will breathe through their lungs.
- Like Wolverine from X-Men, the Axolotls have amazing regenerative powers.
Although it is not unusual for amphibians to be able to regenerate (for example, the lizard can regrow its tail), the Axolotls have even more amazing regenerative powers.
Not only can Axolotls regrow lost limbs, they can rebuild their jaws, spines and even brains without any scarring.
Scientists are studying how regeneration works in these animals in hopes of being able to recreate the phenomenon in human beings.
Now that you know more about the Axolotls, come and visit the Aquarium to get a glimpse of these creatures.
S.E.A. Aquarium is proud to be displaying these amazing animals as part of the Living Fossil exhibition. Come down to see them.