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What is an Axolotl? All About the Adorable Amphibian

Witten by: Juliana L.


The axolotl (pronounced Ax-oh-lot-tul), also called the Mexican Walking Fish, is a critically-endangered amphibian that lives exclusively in Mexico City. Axolotls get their name from the Aztec God Xolotl. According to legend, Xolotl was a dog-headed god of lightning and fire who led spirits to the underworld. The axolotl is a relative of the salamander and lives its entire life underwater. Axolotls are quite small, with adults only growing to around a foot long. They come in a variety of colors, ranging from Leucitic/pink, White Albino, Golden Albino, and Melanoid/black. There are more varieties, but those four are the most common. These nocturnal carnivores have become popular due to their cute appearance, astonishing regeneration ability, and their easy care as pets. Recently, they have become even more popular with their new appearance in the popular video game Minecraft. However, these popular amphibians are nearing extinction. This article will provide you with various facts on the axolotl.
42 – Photo of an Axolotl
Wild axolotls live in Lake Xochimilco. This is important to note since it shows how small of a wild habitat these amphibians reside in. However, this limited habitat does help to distinguish a clear difference between the axolotl and another animal, the tiger salamander. People often confuse the tiger salamander with axolotls due to their very similar appearance. However, tiger salamanders eventually undergo metamorphosis and move to land. They also aren’t as endangered as the axolotl. Axolotls do not go through metamorphosis and live their entire lives underwater in Lake Xochimilco only. Outside of this common misconception, the limited habitat wild axolotls reside in is deeply concerning. Axolotls used to have another wild habitat in Lake Chalco. However, the lake was drained to prevent flooding, leaving the remaining axolotls to reside in Lake Xochimilco. Even more concerning is the amount of urbanization in the area that could possibly hurt the population even more. Luckily, wild axolotls do not have to worry about a lack of food.
Wild axolotls have a variety of foods included in their diets. Such food consists of mollusks, fish, and insects. When food is scarce, axolotls will eat each other’s limbs. This may sound bad, which it is, but axolotls can regenerate limbs and even parts of its organs in a quick amount of time. Usually, regeneration takes about 40 days before the limb is fully grown back. This means that they will not permanently loose the eaten limb. Due to this small amount of protein and the occasional limb eating, scientists added fish such as tilapia and carp to their habitat as a way to give axolotls more to eat. However, these added big fish are predators to young axolotls, thus contributing to the endangerment of the species. Axolotls who are kept as pets have a similar diet. Many people feed their axolotls worms or insects. Axolotls are carnivores, meaning they should be fed meat.
Axolotls are often praised for being a good introduction to exotic animals. This is due to their easy care and cute appearance. However, it is important to know how to keep an axolotl before you purchase one. If an axolotl is kept in the wrong conditions, it can be detrimental to its health. It is recommended that axolotls are kept in 10-20-gallon fish tanks that include a tight lid. Axolotls are independent animals, meaning that they’re fine living alone. However, you could put multiple axolotls in a single tank. The
tank should be a tad bit deeper than the length or your axolotl. This supplies it with enough room to swim around in. For substrate, it is recommended that sand is used. This is because it is easy for your axolotl to grip, it won’t cause health problems if it is accidentally ingested, and it provides the axolotl with a form of entertainment (Axolotls like to dig/play in sand). It is crucial that a good substrate is used. If you use the wrong substrate, it could potentially severely injure or kill your axolotl. An example of a bad substrate is gravel. It can damage the axolotl when the axolotl is resting and eating. Axolotls inhale bits of water when eating. If gravel is used, your axolotl may inhale a rock, causing massive harm to it. Axolotls are to be kept in a cooler area. The overall water temperature should range in between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit. If the water is too cold, the axolotl will become sluggish and lose its appetite. The reverse happens when the temperature is too hot. It will become stressed and eat too much. You should make sure you change 20% of your axolotl’s water every week. You should also purchase a filter for its water. Unlike other animals, there is no need for a light around the axolotl’s tank. This is because axolotls do not have eyelids, which means light can stress them out. It is also recommended that you add a dark hiding spot to the axolotl’s enclosure. You can also add plants or decorations into the tank to entertain and please your axolotl. Axolotls are legal to keep as pets in the U.S. However, axolotls are illegal in three states. These states are Maine, New Jersey, and California.
As I stated earlier, axolotls are critically endangered. The main causes for this are a loss of habitat, invasive species, and pollution. However, there is still hope for the axolotl. Due to their increase in popularity, many people are finding out about this endangered amphibian. The more people who find out about the axolotl, the more people could spread awareness about it. More people have been buying and taking care of axolotls, allowing for them to prosper in captivity. They also get a lot of attention from scientists, who often study them for their fascinating regenerative properties. If we continue to bring attention to axolotls, more can be done to save them.

Works Cited

Haines, D. (2020, August 24). 68 Axolotl Facts: Ultimate Guide to the Adorable Mexican Walking Fish. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://everywherewild.com/axolotl/
What do Axolotls Eat in the Wild? (2020, October 21). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://axolotlnerd.com/axolotls-diet-wild/
Adams, A., Louisa, Modestfish, Angelika, & Kira. (2020, September 17). Axolotl Care Sheet: Your Expert Guide to Housing, Feeding, & Breeding. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://modestfish.com/axolotl-care/
Lianne McLeod, D. (2020, May 22). Keeping and Caring for Axolotls as Pets. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.thesprucepets.com/axolotls-as-pets-1236714
Clare, J. P. (2012). Requirements & Water Conditions. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.axolotl.org/requirements
Axolotl. (2020, April 22). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.earthday.org/axolotl/
Schipani, S. (2018, January 08). How to Save the Paradoxical Axolotl. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/saving-paradoxical-axolotl-180967734/

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CCA

Published

February 22nd, 2021

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