Fun Facts About Axolotls

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In the game Minecraft, there are cute little axolotls that children love to
collect. They come in a variety of colors… gold, brown, pink (leucistic),
cyan, and blue… and can be found swimming in the clay pools found in lush
caves. Many children are surprised when they find out that axolotls are animals that exist in real life and not just in the Minecraft realm. What are
axolotls like in real life? Keep reading to find out!

Axolotls are amphibians.

Amphibians are animals that emerge from eggs in the water and take to the land
as adults. But not axolotls! Axolotls are unique amphibians because they spend
their entire lives underwater. 

Female axolotls lay 300 to 1,000 eggs at a time. These embryos will emerge
from their eggs in approximately two weeks.

Axolotls are native to Mexico.

Wild axolotls can only be found in Lake Xochimilco and in the canals near Mexico
City. They live in stagnant freshwater that remains about 20°C (68°F)
year-round.

One of the Lake Xochimilco canals near Mexico City, Mexico.

Axolotls are ‘paedomorphic’.

The life cycle of axolotls is similar to other amphibians with one major
exception… at five weeks old when their legs are fully formed, their
metamorphosis stops. Axolotls are paedomorphic because they retain
some of their youthful traits into adulthood. They keep their tadpole-like
tails and feet and depend on their gills to breathe underwater. 

Life Cycle of an Axolotl ©Riley Claywell

Terrestrial axolotls are rare but do exist.

Although extremely rare, there are axolotls that go through a
complete metamorphosis and adapt to living on land. Very little is known
about terrestrial axolotls and no one knows exactly how or why this
happens. We do know a few things though. We know that terrestrial axolotls
live on land, breathe air with their lungs, are carnivorous, and look
significantly different from aquatic axolotls!

A close up photo of an unusual axolotl that went through a complete metamorphosis and became a terrestrial axolotl. ©Imgur
This is Gollum, a rare terrestrial axolotl. You can learn more about
Gollum on Imgur.

Axolotls are carnivorous.

Axolotls are strict carnivores, meaning they only eat meat. Axolotls eat worms, insects, small fish, mollusks, and just about anything
else that can fit inside their mouth and swallow whole. They will even eat
salmon eggs and other axolotls. 

Axolotl under water

Axolotls are able to regrow missing limbs.

When axolotls lose their limbs due to injury or predation, their limbs
regrow over time. It can take aquatic axolotl limbs 40 to 50 days and
terrestrial axolotl limbs 155 to 180 days to rejuvenate. Scientists are
closely studying axolotls to learn as much as they can about how axolotl
limbs rejuvenate. Maybe someday these scientists will be able to use their
discoveries to regrow human limbs!

This yellow axolotl looks like it's smiling.

Axolotls are a critically endangered species.

Even though we see axolotls in pet stores, aquariums, and zoos, they are
a
critically endangered species. This means they are almost extinct
in the wild. Scientists estimate there are only 500-1,000 axolotls in
the wild. Habitat destruction due to water pollution, invasive fish species, human development,
and drought are some of the leading causes of the decline in axolotls.
Another cause of their decline is overfishing by humans. Some people
capture axolotls to sell as pets… whereas others sell them for food.

Fried axolotl is a delicacy in some cultures.

Fried axolotls are a delicacy in some parts of the world. Would you eat
one?

Did you enjoy learning about axolotls? If so, check out these other blog
posts to learn more fun facts about other animals:

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