Axolotl Appearance, Types, Facts, Food and Much More – 2021

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Axolotls

 

 The axolotl (axolotl scientific name Ambystoma mexicanum) is also known as the Mexican walking fish and belongs to the salamander family of fish. It is a neotenic salamander akin to the tiger salamander.

 

It is known as the walking fish, but it is not a fish. You pronounce axolotl as ax-oh-LOT-ull. Axolotl has its origin in the Aztec language, Nahuatl.

The most popular literal translation of the word connects it to the god of deformations and death, Xolotl. Another commonly accepted translation for axolotl is water-dog (atl for water, and xolotl for dog).

 

It is an amphibian, a salamander. It attains maturity without undergoing metamorphosis, and this is an unusual phenomenon for an amphibian.

Unlike other amphibians, you would not find an axolotl on land as it stays gilled and aquatic. Rarely an axolotl metamorphosed comes out of the water. The complete metamorphosis of an axolotl to salamander that is terrestrial does not happen.

 

It is easy to confuse the axolotl salamander with the larval stage ( called the waterdogs) of tiger salamanders (A. tigrinum and A. mavortium). Tiger salamanders occasionally turn neotenic and are found in abundance in large parts of North America.

Another salamander variety with which they are often confused are mudpuppies (Necturus spp.). They are fully aquatic salamanders that are not related to the axol’s but are similar in appearance.

 

axol’s and other salamanders are often confused with a lizard, but they do not belong to the same species. axol’s and salamanders are amphibians, while lizards belong to the reptile species.

One of the main differences between axol’s and salamanders is that axol’s live in water permanently. axol’s do not develop the eyelids, protruding eyes, and other characteristics displayed by adult salamanders.

 

The axol’s is also similar to the olm salamander in several ways. The olm or proteus (Proteus anguinus) belongs to the family Proteidae and is an aquatic salamander. It prefers to live in caves underwater in the Dinaric Alps.

The introduction of some species of olm salamander in Italy, Vicenza, Slovenia, and Kranz has expanded their presence in the world. This salamander has several names, like the white salamander and cave salamander. It also has the moniker, human fish because of its fleshy skin color.

 

Although it is an amphibian, the olm salamander also remains aquatic all its life, just like the axol’s. This salamander lives and breeds underwater. The olm has adapted itself to a dark environment present in its underground natural habitat.

The eyes of an olm are underdeveloped, making it almost blind. The other senses of an olm, like its sense of smell and hearing, develop acutely. It has two toes on its hind feet and three on its forelimbs. The olm is neotenic like axol’s and retains its juvenile traits like external gills.

 

Are axolotl endangered

 

Their decreasing population put axol’s in the endangered species list by the International Union for Conservation of Nature CITES treaty. It is also on their annual Red List of threatened species.

 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), axol’s are a critically endangered category in the wild. According to surveys conducted in the Lake Xochimilco region during 1998, 2003, and 2008, researchers found 6,000, 1,000, and 100 axolotls per square kilometer.

A four-month-long search conducted in 2013 found no axolotl in the wild except two wild axol’s spotted in a network of canals leading from Xochimilco a month later.

 

Since then, the city administration has been working towards the conservation of axol’s by building shelters and creating potential salamander habitats. These shelters have stacks of rocks and reedy plants that help in filtering clean water pumped in.

 

Axolotl species initially thrived in several lakes underlying Mexico City. Due to the urbanization of the city and increased water pollution, axol’s were near extinction by 2010.

Increased tourism and improper waste regulations in Mexico City have led to the endangerment of axol’s. Plastics, heavy metals, and high levels of ammonia from waste-treatment plants clog the canals. These canals are salamanders and axolotl natural habitat.

 

The permeable skin of axol’s is at risk from the ammonia that seeps into the canal through the overflow of human excrement. Another factor that made the axolotl endangered was introducing of invasive species non-native fish like perch, African tilapia, and Asian carp.

These fish eat the axolotl babies as their primary food. Axol’s have a few predators in the wild such as the storks and herons. They are often over-collected for food and medicine that contributes to their diminishing numbers.

 

Although axol’s in the wild is considered endangered, with only a few hundred individuals left, tens of thousands of them live all over the world in home aquariums and research laboratories.

They are bred extensively in captivity. In Japan, certain restaurants even serve deep-fried axol’s. There is a paradox related to axolotl conservation status. Axolotls are one of the most widely circulated amphibians around the world through labs and breeders. Still, they are an almost extinct species.

 

Uses of Axolotls

 

Axol’s were a part of the Aztec diet and were available in Mexican food markets. Because of their unique ability to regenerate limbs, they are used extensively in scientific research.

 

Appearance

 

An axol’s attains sexual maturity at the age of 18–24 months. At this stage, it ranges from 15 to 45 cm (6 to 18 in) in length. A typical axolotl adult is close to 23 cm (9 in) in size, and a size greater than 30 cm (12 in) is considered rare.

 

Certain physical features of axol’s, such as external gills and a caudal fin extending from behind the head to the vent, bear a close resemblance to typical salamander larvae. A baby salamander looks like a frog.

Axol’s have broad heads, lidless eyes, underdeveloped limbs, and thin long digits. Male axolotls are easily identifiable by their swollen cloacae lined with papillae, while females have wider bodies filled with eggs.

 

There are three pairs of external gill stalks (rami) originating from behind their heads, and these move oxygenated water. Filaments (fimbriae) line these external gills and increase the surface area available for gas exchange. Underneath the external gills, there are four hidden gill slits lined with gill rakers.

The axol’s use the external gills primarily for respiration, but buccal pumping ( when they gulp air from the surface) also provides oxygen to their lungs.

Axol’s have a broad and flat body with a large head. Axolotl eyes are round and dark with yellow, iridescent irises. Their feathery gills wave gently around in the water as they swim.

A unique feature of this animal is its signature axolotl cute face and its adorable axolotl smile. The upturned mouth of the axolotl has a baby grin which makes its visage very expressive.

The cute axolotl smile appears on its face after it has swallowed its food. When an axol’s opens its mouth to eat, a lot of water and food rushes inside. If the food is something big like a worm, the axol’s swallows multiple times. The smile-like expression appears on their face after they this.

 

The limbs of an axol’s resemble that of a lizard, and they carry the animal along the lake bottom. An axol’s can swim at an incredible speed of 10 miles per hour (15 kilometers per hour).

 

Axolotls

Axolotl color variations

 

There are four pigmentation genes in axol’s that create different color variants on mutation. The most common color variant in axolotl wild-type is brown/tan with gold speckles and an olive undertone.

 

Five other mutant axol’s colors include axolotl gold albino (golden with gold eyes), the albino axolotl(pale pink/white with red eyes), leucistic (pale pink with black eyes), axanthic axolotl (grey with black eyes), and axolotl melanoid (all black/dark blue axolotls without gold speckles or olive tone). Black axolotls are generally the wild ones.

 

Axol’s also vary widely in terms of the frequency, intensity, and size of the gold speckling. A variant of this fish develops a black and white piebald appearance on becoming an axolotl adult. A piebald variant of axolotl in more than one color is known as the harlequin.

 

It is common for pet axolotl breeders to frequently cross the variant colors, which results in double recessive mutants that are white/pink with pink eyes.

These axol’s variants are double homozygous mutants for both the axolotl leucistic and axolotl albino . Some axol’s have silvery highlights on their skin. axol’s can also alter their color and change the relative thickness and size of their melanophores for a camouflaging effect.

 

Types of Axolotl

 

The number of axol’s in the wild is dwindling fast, but their inbreeding has kept the number of axoltls as pets up. There are now at least 20 different types of axol’s that people keep as pets.

 

Because of the inbreeding of the axol’s, there are several color morphs available of the axol’s. Some of these are rare axolotl colors. You can understand every axol’s color by knowing about the genes, genetics, and cells that affect it.

 

There are three different kinds of pigment cells or chromatophores in axol’s. Each of these pigment cells produces a different color. The color of an axol’s comes from two separate genes, one from each parent. There are three sections called alleles in each gene, and they correspond to three types of chromatophores.

 

It is the combination of alleles that increases or decreases the number of chromatophore types produced in the skin. It affects the color of the axolotl.

In a white albino axolotl, the alleles code for lower levels of melanophores in the skin. Since melanophores give a blackish-brown skin color to the axolotl, the albino axol’s are white. The alleles in an axolotl black or a melanoid axolotl produce more melanophores.

 

Some color patterns are produced in an axol’s if it gets two similar alleles from the parents. If an axol’s inherits one albino allele and a normal allele, it will not be an albino. For an axol’s to be an albino, it needs two of the albino alleles.

It is tough to breed axol’s in specific colors, and the combination of alleles produces rare morphs. To create a color morph from a mutant axol’s, the breeder must do selective and patient breeding. Every day, the breeders are trying to produce new morphs for axol’s lovers through inbreeding.

 

Main axolotl colors

 

  • Leucistic axolotl

 

Leucistic axolotls are translucent white and have shiny gold specks on their skin. They have pink or red gills, and their eyes are dark brown or black.

This axol’s is rarely found in the wild as its color makes it an easy kill for its predators. They are one of the most attractive types of axolotl and survive easily in captivity.

A leucistic axolotl looks similar to an albino axol’s, but albinos have red eyes. Leucistic axol’s have fewer melanocytes in their skin. Melanocytes produce melanin, a dark pigment, which gives a darker hue to the axolotl.

 

  • Golden albino axolotl

 

Golden albinos follow a broad color spectrum from pure white to peach, orange-gold, and yellow. They have reflective spots and speckles on their skin with peachy yellow gills.

Their eyes are yellow, white, or pink. Baby golden axolotls look similar to white albino axolotl and are also sensitive to bright lights like them. Once they are fully grown, they gradually attain their beautiful golden color.

The absence of melanophores gives these axol’s their light hue. This morph retains xanthophores, which makes it golden-yellow.

 

●      Piebald axolotl

 

Most breeders for Piebalds are in New Zealand, and it is a rare axol’s type. Piebalds are white and have red gills, black eyes, and gray, dark green, or black symmetrical patches on their back and face.

This pattern is on the top half of their body. Some rare piebalds also have these patches on their legs and sides. As the piebald matures, this pattern gets darker and can give a black and white color to the axolotl.

The Piebald axol’s is a kind of leucistic morph with a concentration of melanophores on its back and head. The movement of neural crest cells during early egg development causes this mutation.

 

  • Axolotl copper

 

Copper axol’s are light gray and have copper freckles on their body. Their gray irises, light-color bellies, and grayish-red gills make them attractive.

This axol’s species comes in shades of pink and caramel. Copper axolotls are popular among pet lovers because of their cute speckled faces.

 

Copper axol’s have low levels of melanin and pteridines, but these pigments are not absent.

You can find this axol’s species in the U.S and Australia. Crossbreeding of copper axol’s with other morphs can produce specific varieties like axanthic copper and copper melanoid axolotl. It is the rarest breed of axolotls in the world.

 

  • White albinos

 

Adult white axolotl albinos are pure white, and baby white albinos are sometimes see-through on their bellies.

They have white or pink eyes, red gill filaments, and golden flecks on their gill stalks. The body of adult white albino axol’s is white, but the iridophores on their gills turn a deep shade of red.

 

This species has low levels of xanthophores and melanophores. The iridophores for white albinos are present only on the gills. White albinos look like leucistic axol’s, but they have white or pink eyes.

They are more sensitive to light, and their vision is not as good as other axol’s species.

 

●      FireFly Axolotl

 

FireFly axol’s were produced by Lloyd Strohl II from Indiana USA in 2016 and are one of a kind. They are not genetically modified but are created by embryonic graphing.

Lloyd Strohl II produced them while investigating the activation and distribution of melanocytes in leucistic axolotls and mosaic axolotls. These dozen or so axolotls were created especially for scientific research.

 

Axolotls

Axolotl habitat in the wild

 

The axol’s is native to Lake Chalco that no longer exists, and Lake Xochimilco is close to being dead in the Valley of Mexico. The city has drained out Lake Chalco now as a flood control measure, and Lake Xochimilco now remains mainly in the form of canals.

 

Since it belong to the tiger salamander family or Ambystoma tigrinum, their habitat is like that of most neotenic species.

They thrive in a high-altitude body of water surrounded by a terrestrial environment. This environment poses a risk to them because of the Mexican tiger salamanders that breed in these waters.

 

In the wild, an Axolotl eats small creatures such as insects, worms, and small fish. This carnivorous animal can locate food by smell and snaps at its food to suck it into its stomachs using a vacuum force.

During axolotl metamorphosis, barely visible vestigial teeth get developed. Axolotls feed primarily through suction, during which their rakers get interlocked to close the gill slits.

 

Use of Axolotl in scientific research

 

One of the main reasons for the extensive breeding of axol’s is its use in scientific research. Because of their unique ability to regenerate severed limbs, scientists use axol’s for studying critical aspects from tissue development and repair to cancer.

Centuries of in breeding axolotls have made them vulnerable to diseases. The wild ones are falling prey to a loss of genetic diversity due to their diminishing numbers, and scientists are learning less and less about axolotl regeneration now.

Scientists and researchers are now breeding and releasing axolotls into canals and control ponds in and around Xochimilco. It has helped in retaining some of the natural genetic diversity and complex genomes of axolotls.

 

Their large cells are almost 30 times larger than human cells. Scientists find their large eggs easy to study for their investigations.

The neural plate cells in an axolotl embryo are approximately 600 times larger than those of humans by volume. Axol’s have a complex and large genome that is almost ten times the size of a human genome, making it a daunting challenge to study this species entirely. While other animals or humans have uniform traits across cells, the cell pigmentation of axolotls differs widely from cell to cell.

It helps researchers understand which tissues in an embryo develop into which organs.

Axol’s are the perfect amphibians for research since you can breed them in labs with ease. They are hardy animals, and axolotl care is not taxing. Axol’s have played a crucial part in scientific research for a long time.

In the 1920s, scientists used them for the discovery of thyroid hormones. In this process, they fed thyroid tissue from livestock to axolotls.

 

If the tissue had secreted hormones, it would have led to metamorphosed axolotls that would not have gills and shed their axolotl larval skin.

 

Scientists studied the axol’s in the 1980s to develop a model for explaining how cells take on different forms in embryos.

According to the cell state splitter model, you can convert several stem cells into specific tissues in the body. The cell of axol’s squeeze and stretch before forming tissues.

 

Studies done on axol’s in the early 20th century helped scientists understand how organs develop and function in vertebrates. This axolotl information helped shed light on the causes of spina bifida in humans.

It is a defect that occurs at birth that prevents the spine from forming well. In 2011, extract from axol’s oocytes was used to stop the breast cancer cells from multiplying. This extract worked by switching on a tumor-suppressor gene.

 

Axolotls possess an enormous genome. There are approximately 32 billion pairs of DNA nucleotides in axol’s, and their genome dwarfs the human genome, which is about ten times smaller. So far, the axol’s genome is the largest sequenced animal genome from beginning to end.

The declining numbers of axol’s have affected the role played by them in scientific research. Inbred axol’s have less genetic diversity as the mating happens between related animals.

Scientists have also tried to alter the gene pool by trying other animals crossing axolotls. The inbreeding crossing of the axol’s with the tiger salamander has introduced some genetic diversity, but the animal is now very different from the one found in the wild. These inbred variants not only have an altered genome but are also highly domesticated.

 

Axolotl regeneration

 

Axol’s possess the fascinating ability of regeneration. These animals can grow back severed limbs, organs, tails, tails, tissues of the eye and heart, central nervous system, and in some cases even vital segments of the brain.

Axol’s have contributed immensely to the development of regenerative medicine. It is because axol’s are neotenic and retain some traits from their embryonic stages.

They can regenerate complete missing appendages in months. Axol’s can repair even deep tissue wounds without any scars. It is because of blastema, a group of cells that cover the site of amputation. Blastema also helps in the regrowth of a cut-off or broken heart.

 

During regeneration in axolotls, their body replaces every tissue: bone, skin, muscle, cartilage, and stem cells. Other regenerated organs are also fully functional. It is possible to transplant eyes and parts of the brain from other animals in axolotls.

They not only accept the transplanted part readily but are also capable of restoring these organs to full functionality.

 

In certain unique instances, Axol’s can also regenerate an additional limb, gaining an extra appendage.

This extra limb makes them a novelty and attraction for pet owners. It is because of a protein called transforming growth factor-β. This protein also helps in preventing scar tissue from an injury in human embryos during the first trimester.

 

Studies also suggest that axol’s have a different system to regulate their internal macrophage levels during limb generation.

It suppresses inflammation as scarring prevents healing and regeneration. In mammals, macrophages are responsible for scar formation over wounds.

In axol’s, they help in healing the severed part and recreation of the part. Adult mice and humans can regenerate their digit tips. In metamorphosed animals and humans, this ability gets diminished with age. It is a sign that it is possible to redevelop regenerative abilities in mammals and vertebrates.

 

The trait of regeneration is also present in other salamanders, but axolotls are the best model for lab study.

 

Why are axolotls neotenic?

 

Neoteny means that the axolotls become sexually mature without undergoing metamorphosis. Metamorphic failure in axol’s is due to a lack of the thyroid-stimulating hormone. This hormone is responsible for inducing the thyroid for the production of thyroxine in transforming salamanders.

 

Compared to other salamander species, axolotls have evolved only recently. axol’s possess the extraordinary trait of everlasting youth called paedomorphosis or neoteny.

It means that an adult retains its juvenile characteristics, like its tadpole-like dorsal fins. Other salamanders go through metamorphosis to evolve into terrestrial animals, but the entire life cycle of an axolotl is in the water.

They develop functional lungs, but they also retain their feathery gills. Pet axol’s and those created in labs through artificial selection have genes responsible for neoteny.

 

One of the primary causes for the neoteny in axol’s is the low iodine levels due to the lack of the thyroid-stimulating hormone. Researchers believe that lower temperatures may be another cause for neoteny in salamander axolotls.

Several salamander species are also neonetic, and it works as a survival mechanism for them. In their natural habitat of aquatic environments, there is less food and iodine. Neoteny helps them survive in this environment.

They can reproduce and live in the form of a smaller larva that thrives in water. They need less food to survive, unlike a terrestrial adult.

 

The salamander larvae undergo metamorphosis when they get a sufficient amount of iodine. They can get this directly through the environment or indirectly through cannibalism. As they transform into terrestrial adults, their dietary requirements increase.

 

You can induce metamorphosis in axolotls by injecting them with iodine or thyroxine hormone. Vilem Laufberger in Prague and an Englishman, Julian Huxley, conducted experiments where they injected the thyroid hormones into axolotls.

It helped them grow into adult terrestrial salamanders. Some other neotenic salamanders like Necturus and sirens do not display this characteristic.

 

A metamorphosed adult axolotl resembles a terrestrial plateau tiger salamander, but there are few differences between the two, like longer toes. These differences categorize the axol’s into separate species.

 

Axolotls

Axolotl lifespan

 

It can live on average for 5 to 6 years in captivity. In the wild, they can live for as long as 15 years. In rare cases, They have lived up to 20 years in captivity. The lifespan of an axolotl depends primarily on its water conditions.

 

Keeping an axol’s in substandard conditions can hamper not only its growth but can also shorten its lifespan. Regular maintenance of the tank and giving a non-varied diet to the axol’s is the ideal way to help them stay healthy and live a long life.

 

Axolotl behavior

 

Axol’s like to spend most of their time swimming at the bottom of the tank. Although axolotl teeth are underdeveloped, they are good predators. They inhale mollusks, worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, and even small fish.

 

Axol’s like to spend their day burrowing into the aquatic vegetation and mud, hiding from their predators. They become animated and hungry by night. Axol’s breathe through their gills but come up on the surface of the water occasionally for a quick gulp of air.

 

Axolotls prefer low-light habitats, and if you switch on the light in their aquarium or the room, you might see them zoom around in the tank for a while.

They also exhibit this behavior when they get startled or if there is a shift in the water. Young axol’s are more energetic and swim around the tank a lot more than adults. They even swim towards a person near their tank sometimes.

If your axol’s stays unsettled and agitated for long, frequently comes to the top of the water for air or its skin turns reddish, you must check the water conditions of the tank immediately.

 

Sometimes the axol’s lift their back legs when they need to take a bowel movement. They also move their front legs up sometimes when they are playful or trying to balance on something. Male axolotls lift their legs when they release their sperm cone.

An axol’s may also swallow some air when it wants to float. Baby axol’s sometimes accumulate air in their abdomen and float upside down.

 

The axol’s cannot see their food sometimes when it is dropped right in front of them. A better way to feed them is to dangle the worm right in front of them till they can see it. You can pick up any unseen pellets with a turkey baster and try again.

 

Axolotl care guide

 

The water temperature in Xochimilco stays around 20 °C (68 °F) but falls to 6 and 7 °C in the winters. This temperature is ideal for the axolotls in the wild. For the axolotls in captivity, temperatures at approximately 16 °C (61 °F) to 18 °C (64 °F) are ideal to ensure a good appetite.

 

Exposure to lower temperatures might result in stress, less food intake, disease, and even death. Axolotl tank temperatures higher than 24 °C (75 °F) may cause an increased metabolic rate. It can cause stress and make an axolotl sick, leading to its death. Adding a cooler to the tank helps in keeping the axol’s comfortable all year round.

 

Axolotl tank set-up

 

A 20-gallon axolotl tank (150-litre) is ideal for a single axolotl, but since they produce a lot of mess, you should go for a 20-gallon axolotl tank. Adding a water filter for axolotl helps in keeping the tank water clean.

 

Axol’s have adapted to hard water, and soft water may cause temporary anemia. Symptoms of this ailment include gill discoloration and pale pigmentation. Add salts to the tank water to prevent infection in axolotls.

An axol’s tank needs a pH of 6.5-8.0 for the animal to stay healthy. If the pH levels in the tank are not stable, it will increase the levels of ammonia in the water. It can cause ammonia poisoning in your axol’s.

Chlorine is generally present in tap water, but it is harmful to axol’s. You can keep fresh water axolotl tanks. Use a dechlorinator when adding water to the axol’s tank.

It helps in removing chlorine, chloramines, and other trace metals like lead and mercury from water. A mesh filter clamped firmly over the tank is a good addition since the aquarium axolotls sometimes try to jump out.

Axol’s are sensitive to dirty water conditions and should be kept in clean water. You should change at least twenty percent of the tank water weekly.

The filtration system used in the tank should not disturb the water flow as axol’s prefer still waters. You can use an external canister filter with slow-spreading outlets. It will keep the water clean and relatively still. Adding plants to the axol’s tank also maintains the water flow.

A low-light environment is the habitat axolotls prefer.  It replicates their wild natural habitat. Adding a bright light to the tank can stress them out since they do not have eyelids.

You should keep the baby axolotl fish under dim light since they are timid. Full-grown axolotls get accustomed to brighter light, but they also need places to hide in their aquarium.

A captive axolotl hides among the natural rocks and plants in its tank. Since they are shy, they love to hide behind live and silk plants like anubias, java mosses, and hornworts. You can also add caves and PVC pipes as axolotl tank decor.

Like other reptiles and amphibians, captive axolotls tend to ingest substrates and bedding material along with axolotl food.

It makes them prone to foreign body ingestion and gastrointestinal obstruction. Bowel obstruction is a common cause of death in axol’s. Fish experts recommend that an axol’s aquarium should not have any axolotl tank decorations with a diameter below 3 cm.

The common substrates used for animal enclosures may prove harmful for reptiles and amphibians. You can use the gravel used in aquariums as an axolotl substrate, but it should consist of small-size smooth particles.

They should be small enough to pass through the digestive tract of axol’s when they ingest it. Ingesting some gravel is beneficial for axol’s as it helps grind up the food in their belly. It is similar to how birds use grit to break down their food for digestion.

 

Do not keep axol’s with other fish or salamanders. These tank mates may nibble on the gills of the axolotls.

If there are any small fish as axolotl tank mates, they may try and eat them. An axolotl baby also nibbles at other babies’ feet and gills, making them vulnerable to damage. You can keep axolotls full-grown together in a tank.

 

Food for axolotl

 

Captive axolotl diet includes a variety of foods. They feed on waxworms, salmon and trout pellets, earthworms, and live or frozen bloodworms. Since axol’s are carnivores, they need a good supply of meat.

 

Axolotls eat feeder fish also. Since it contains parasites, you should take care before feeding it to axol’s. Feeding the axolotl live feeder fish can also contaminate the tank. You can also give them bloodworm cubes and an occasional piece of frozen shrimp or a ball of raw hamburger meat as a treat.

You should avoid giving a varied diet to the axol’s as a mixed diet leads to intermediate growth results. They need a proper, high-quality, and invariant diet. Feed the axol’s daily. A healthy adult axolotl can stay without food for two weeks.

 

Axolotl Pet 

 

Axolotl pet care is an easy task since they are hardy and do not require much space. They make a good pet as all they need is a deep tank filled with water. Axolotls salamanders live in water all their lives.

 

These cute salamanders are not as common as snakes or lizards, but they sure have a large fan base. The smiling axolotl is a popular choice for aquariums. Axol’s are exotic and popular pets like tiger salamanders. Although the number of wild axolotls is fast diminishing, you can find them everywhere in the world because of their large-scale breeding in captivity.

 

You will not be able to find axol’s in common reptile and pet stores because they require different temperature conditions than most common lizards and snakes. However, they are readily available with any private axolotl breeder or an axol’s enthusiast.

You can also acquire them at reptile expos and pet shows. You can buy an axolotl from an exotic pet store near you or buy an axolotl online.

It is better to approach a licensed breeder for axol’s. It will ensure that he has done axolotl breeding in hygienic conditions and you get a healthy animal. Axol’s enthusiasts prefer axolotl pink and other lighter color variants as pets.

 

Axolotls

Axolotl reproduction

 

Axol’s attain sexual maturity by six months of age and their breeding season is between March and June. It is the time when water temperatures are moderate and ideal for them. A sort of waltzing ritual between a male and female starts the mating process.

 

The male and female slide and rub against each other’s cloaca (urogenital opening) while swimming around in a circular motion. They wave their tails for about 30 seconds, after which the axolotl male struts away.

It moves around its tail like a hula dancer. As it lures the female, the male axol’s drops a small white cone-shaped capsule. This capsule is full of sperms and is called a spermatophore.

 

The female axolotl does a tail shaking display and collects this cone inside her cloaca. She then starts the fertilization of her 300 to 1,000 eggs. She lays her eggs separately on plants or rocks to keep them safe from predators.

The eggs take two weeks to hatch, after which baby axolotls start swimming around in the water. There is no need for any baby axolotl care as they start fending for themselves as soon as they hatch. It takes about a year for the young ones to become sexually mature.

 

Interesting axolotl facts

 

  • axol’s were first discovered in the 13th century by the Aztecs. They found axol’s in the Valley of Mexico in the 13th century.
  • Legend has it that Aztecs named the axol’s after Xolotl, their god of fire and lightning. The Aztecs believed that Xolotl had transformed into a salamander to save himself from a sacrifice.
  • Axol’s were first brought to laboratories in 1863 when a French expedition shipped 34 of these animals to the Natural History Museum in Paris. Out of these, they sent five males and five females to French zoologist Auguste Duméril. It was the first time that axol’s breeding in labs was a success.
  • Axol’s are now a critically endangered species in the wild. Still, they are one of the most popular pets in the world.
  • A count in 1998 estimated a figure of around 6,000 axol’s in each square kilometer. In 2015, the count carried out by ecologist Luis Zambrano at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) found only 35 per square kilometer.
  • Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) look like fish, but they are amphibians that belong to the single living genus of the family Ambystomatidae. The Ambystoma genus has more than 30 salamander species.
  • Axol’s play a critical role in scientific research because of their regenerative capabilities. In 1968, researchers transplanted the head of one axolotl onto another axol’s, and the transplanted head functioned normally.
  • One of the superpowers of axolotls includes being over 1,000 times more resistant to cancer than mammals.
  • Scientists deciphered the axol’s genome as recent as 2018
  • Axolotl- Julio Cortazar is a short story published in 1952
  • Sanford Children’s Zoo in San Diego plans to have axol’s as a part of their collection. The proposed date for the opening of the zoo is 2021. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance supports axolotl conservation.
  • Amazon used to sell an axolotl plushie called Archie axolotl squishmallow. The pink squishmallow axolotl was a popular plushie, but they have discontinued the production of the same now.
  • Anastasia axolotl squishmallow is another axolotl plushie sold at Walmart.