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Axolotl
 
 
AXOLOTL

Axolotl

(Ambystoma mexicanum)

Description

The axolotl is an unusual salamander in that it never grows up! This is called neoteny. Adult axolotls will lay eggs, which will then hatch into tadpoles and begin the process of growing up. They develop legs, lungs and reach sexual maturity but still resemble the larval form; remaining underwater and keeping their gills. Adult axolotls can reach up to 30cm in length. They have four digits on the front feet and five on the hind feet. Axolotls retain their gills as adults; these are very noticeable, branch-like projections that protrude from the sides of the head. In the wild, axolotls are usually a mottled brown colour but in captivity can be seen in a range of colours including white, black and golden.

Habitat & Distribution

The axolotl used to be found in Lakes Xochimilca and Chalco and the surrounding water channels on the southern edge of Mexico City, but it is now very rare (potentially extinct) in the wild.

Diet

Axolotls are carnivores; their main prey are aquatic insects. When hunting, an axolotl will open its mouth very fast, creating a vacuum, which sucks in anything nearby.

Conservation Status

Critically endangered. Scientists are now concerned that this species may have gone extinct in the wild and are planning to launch an expedition to look for any remaining wild individuals.