Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (2024)

The axolotl is a friendly creature. After all, he always seems to be smiling. The crazy appearance of this salamander attracts the attention of many: a flattened head, small eyes, three pairs of external gills and short legs without webbed feet. In the middle of its back you can see a long crest. The axolotl belongs to the family of the so-called mole salamanders (Ambystomatidae). It only occurs in the wild in Mexico, lives exclusively in water and is a popular aquarium pet. The axolotl is a fairly large salamander, with a length of about 25 to 30 centimeters. Read more about this interesting amphibian below.

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (1)

An Aztec name

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (2)

Pronounce 'axolotl' as 'ax-oh-lot-ul'. It was the Aztecs who gave this unique salamander its name. In Aztec, 'atl' means water and 'xolotl' means dog. Literally translated, 'axolotl' means 'water dog'. The scientific name is 'Ambystoma mexicanum', which means 'blunt mouth from Mexico'...

Rarely white in the wild

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (3)

Aquarium enthusiasts love beautiful white axolotls with beautiful colored gills behind the head. However, white axolotls are rare in the wild. They usually have a brown or black color. The white variant is in fact a mutation. It is known that a mutated male axolotl was brought to Paris in 1863. The white variety with black eyes was subsequently intensively bred. In pet stores you will mainly find white axolotls with dark eyes, simply because this variant looks so attractive.

Plume-like gills

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (4)

You would think there would be feathers sticking out from behind its head. No, the axolotl does not have feathers on its body. These plume-like projections are actually vital gills. The hairy 'threads' on the gills serve solely to increase the active surface area and thus promote gas exchange. Other species of salamanders also possess gills when they are still in the larval stage. However, in most species the gills disappear during the metamorphosis from larva to salamander. Not so with the outsider axolotl, which actually remains in the larvae stage for its entire adult life...

Attached to his home

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (5)
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The axolotl only lives in the water, not on land. Wild axolotls can only be found in one place on earth: in the mountain lakes and man-made canals south of Mexico City, in the Xochimilco area. Today, Lake Chalco is about the only remaining natural lake where the axolotl can be found in the wild. The species has therefore not spread over a large area. The axolotl is a true carnivore and will eat just about anything that fits in its mouth: worms, small fish and insects.

Nearly extinct in the wild

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Mexico City is constantly expanding and this is at the expense of the axolotl's habitat. The water level in the lakes is falling due to the damming of rivers and the great need for drinking water. The axolotl's natural habitat is gradually disappearing. The increasing pollution of the habitat is also a problemthreat to the species. In 1998, researchers counted around 6,000 axolotls living in the wild, but by 2014 there were virtually none left. However, the axolotl is still widely bred in captivity, mainly for laboratories and pet shops. Anyone who likes to keep a salamander as a pet often ends up with the friendly axolotl…

Tasty axolotls

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (7)

Axolotls have been eaten since time immemorial. The original inhabitants of the Xochimilco area ate the animals in large numbers. Now this is only possible in certain chic restaurants. The axolotl would taste like the meat of an eel or like white fish meat. To taste it yourself, you have to go to exclusive restaurants in Japan.

A mythological background

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (8)

OfAztecs named the axolotl after their god Xolotl, a deity with a dog's head. Xolotl was the god who had to transport the souls of the deceased to the underworld. According to an Aztec legend, Xolotl feared he would be killed and transformed himself into an axolotl. This way he could easily hide from his enemies. However, he could not transform himself into a deity again and was therefore doomed to wander forever in the lakes of Xochimilco as a salamander.

A child all his life

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (9)

It is said of some people that they never grow up. However, with an axolotl this is always the case. The adult animal continues to look like a young specimen, a phenomenon that isneotenyis called. In other salamander species, a metamorphosis normally takes place from a larva to an adult salamander. However, the axolotl remains in the larval stage for its entire life, retains its gills and continues to live in the water.

Many body parts grow back

Most amphibians have no trouble regrowing bitten or broken limbs. That's what they call regeneration. In the axolotl, regeneration has become a true art. A missing leg? In the axolotl, the leg grows back spontaneously. Will the same leg be bitten off again? The leg grows back for the second time. That process of regeneration can be repeated dozens of times without leaving scars. Not only limbs, but also the spine and even the brain regenerate in the axolotl. A damaged spine repairs itself dozens of times without permanent damage. If that were possible for a person...

Much studied animal

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (10)

The axolotl's unique ability to recover lost orregenerate damaged body parts, naturally attracts the attention of scientists. If the mechanism of regeneration in animals such as axolotls is uncovered, it could have applications in human medicine. This friendly salamander could become of great importance to humanity...

Axolotl (Mexican flightless fish) - 11 facts about this friendly creature - Animal fun (2024)

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