15 Amazing Facts about Axolotls You Should Know
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Axolotls are fresh water creatures and can be kept as pets. They are a rare type of pet but also very unique and easy to take care of.
Axolotls are also known as Mexican Walking fish, even though they are not fish but amphibians. They are a type of neotenic salamander that is closely related to the tiger salamander.
However, unlike salamanders and other amphibians, axolotls reach maturity without undergoing different forms of metamorphosis.
They are originally found in Xochimilco Lake in Mexico, but with few canals remaining in Xochimilco Lake, the axolotls are currently considered an endangered species.
Axolotls are available in different colours, golden, black, grey, white with black eyes, albino, and many other colours.
Axolotls grow to an average size of six to eighteen inches long, therefore they require a large water tank of at least 20 gallons of water.
Their tank should be kept in a cool room that is not receiving direct sunlight.
The water temperatures for axolotls’ tank should also be kept very cool, between 57 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit and never beyond 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Their water tank should also be kept clean. A working filter and regular water changes will allow you axolotls to grow healthily and comfortably.
Axolotls are handy pets that can thrive in different water environments. They are easy to take care for, and have unique and extraordinary characteristics.
If you want to keep axolotls as a pet, I recommend reading the Axolotl Nerd blog, to learn more about this pet. Here you can find some amazing facts that you should know about axolotls.
1. Axolotls are Amphibians
Many people confuse axolotls to be either fish or reptiles. Although they are also known as walking fish, they are purely amphibians, a special type of the salamander, but they do not go through the process of metamorphosis.
This means that axolotls retain their original larval form even as they develop to maturity. Other types of amphibians, just like insects, go through the process of metamorphosis, changing form as they develop from larval form into adulthood.
2. In the Wild, Axolotls are Only Found in Mexico
Although axolotls have now become common among aquarists and many laboratories, in the wild, they can only be found in Mexico.
They live at the bottom of Lake Xochilmilco, and cannot be easily seen while in the lake. Lake Xochilmilco is an ancient lake with many channels and canals in the Southern side of Mexico.
3. Axolotls Have Special Abilities to Regenarate Body Organs
Axolotls have an incredible ability to develop any part of their body that they could lose through an accident. If axolotls loses its limbs, it is able to regenerate new limbs in a short period of around few weeks.
It can also redevelop other parts of its body such as spinal cord, heart, lungs and even parts of its brain. Axolotls regenerate these body organs without leaving any scar on the skin.
4. Axolotls Have Gills
Axolotls have their gills on the outside that they retain from larva stage. These gills are feathery looking like branches that extend on both sides of the axolotls’ head. Axolotls use the gills to absorb more oxygen in water.
The gills are also used in the process of excretion. Instead of removing all waste in the body as urine, axolotls use the gills to excrete some of the waste too.
Apart from the gills, the axolotls also have functional lungs and from time to time, they are seen floating at the surface of the water tank for a gulp of air.
5. Axolotls Feed by Using Suction
In the wild, axolotls eat worms, small fish, small amphibians, snails and crustaceans. In captivity, you can feed your axolotl foods such as earthworms, small pieces of liver or beef, brine shrimp, bloodworms or ready-made fish food for instance trout pellets.
But did you know axolotls do not have any teeth to chew their food? While feeding, axolotls open their jaws wide and suck in their food through interlocking rakes that close the gill as food is sucked into the mouth.
The food goes directly into their stomach. Axolotls do not chew the food.
6. You Can Easily Differentiate Female and Male Axolotls
Identifying and differentiating male from female axolotls is not a hard task. An adult male axolotls has a large and wide head as compared to their female counterparts.
In addition, a male axolotls has eyes that do not have eyelids yet the female axolotl’s eyes have eyelids. Another differentiating trait is, male axolotls have longer tail and swollen cloaca as compared to the female.
Female axolotls, on the other hand, have a generally plumper and rounder body, smaller cloaca and are often shorter in length than the male.
7. Axolotls Breeding Season is Earlier in the Calendar Year
Axolotls reach sexual maturity at an approximate age of 6 months. Their breeding season typically runs in the early months of the year, between the months of March and June.
Spawning, which entails a female axolotls laying eggs, happens in temperate water temperatures, in the late winter. In the wild, axolotls breed only once a year, however, in captivity, the breeding cycle can happen two or three times.
8. Breeding Ritual for the Axolotls Includes a Dance
Just before breeding, the axolotls have a ritual dance between the male and the female. The ritual dance is a kind of introduction phase for mating.
When a male axolotls is interested in a female axolotls, he deposits sperm packets on the ground, then tries to lead the female towards them. As the male tries to lead the female to the sperm deposits, they move in a circular motion, while rubbing each other’s cloaca.
If a female accepts the sperm deposits, she picks them up with her cloaca and fertilization begins. The dance can last for hours.
9. Female Axolotls Lay Eggs in a Protective Cover
Female axolotls can lay from 300 to over 1000 eggs at ago in the water. A female Axolotls lays each egg individually with an attached protective substrate.
The eggs are placed on plants and rocks to protect them from predators. The eggs hatch after about two weeks. Most of the eggs do not survive the hatching stage.
10. Axolotls are Named After a God
Axolotls got their name from an ancient language that was spoken in the Valley of Mexico. In the language axolotls is derived from two words, Atl meaning water and xototl meaning dog.
Xototl was an Aztec god of death. As it is narrated, Xototl god was a dog god that led people into the netherworld when they died.
According to the story, there came a time when deities were being sacrificed, and xototl hid in the water never to be seen on land again, hence the name Axolotls.
11. Axolotls are Edible
Axolotls have been considered a delicacy for years in Mexico. In 1787, it was declared safe to eat. People say it has a flavour resembling that of the eel or chicken.
In the ancient days, it was considered a special treat.
Today, axolotls are made differently according to different personal taste. Some people bake them, some deep fry while others dice and tuck them in rice or other types of food.
Axolotls are not only consumed as a snack, but also for its nutritional purposes.
12. Axolotls are an Endangered Species
Axolotls were only found in the wild in Mexico, Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco. Over the years, the number of axolotls in the wild has continued to decrease.
This has been caused by a number of factors such as pollution in the lake from companies and household waste and garbage, introduction of predatory fish in the lake, human activities, and many people eat axolotls as a snack or sell them as pets.
The fact that Lake Chalco was drained many years ago, also affected the number of axolotls in the wild.
13. Axolotls are Actually Mortal
Due to their abilities to regenerate damaged body organs, some people confuse them with immortal creatures. Axolotls are mortal creatures. Axolotls can die from diseases or old age. These actually can live up to 10 or 20 years.
14. Axolotls Have Very Few Predators
Although axolotls are endangered animals, very few animals are a threat to them. Their main predators are birds, such as herons and storks that can scan and pluck animals beneath the water.
Therefore, if axolotls swim near the surface of the water, they are at a risk of being eaten by birds. Other predators include other bigger fish such as tilapia. However, these are not present in the natural habitat of axolotls.
15. Axolotls Live Only in Water
Axolotls have both lungs and gills for breathing. However, axolotls can suffocate to death if removed out of water for a long period of time.
While in the wild, axolotls never venture on dry land, they remain in the water and cannot survive out of it for an extended period of time.
Axolotls are unique and very interesting animals. If you like to learn more about axolotls, you can buy one and keep it as a pet to continuously learn and observe their unique behavior and occurrence.