Axolotls: types and characteristics

Fish or amphibian? Although the habitat of the axolotl is 100% aquatic, this peculiar animal belongs to the class of amphibians . However, we cannot deny that its appearance is confusing: it has a tail, fins and gills like a fish, but legs like an amphibian, which is why many call it the walking fish. It also has other characteristics that make it particularly unique, not only for the general public, but also for the scientific community.

What are axolotls and their characteristics

From any point of view, axolotls are extraordinary animals and these are some of their main characteristics:

  • Let’s start with the most surprising thing, the physical characteristics of the axolotl . In principle, axolotls have the typical dorsal fin and gills of tadpoles and this is because they do not undergo the metamorphosis process characteristic of other amphibians. This phenomenon that does not trigger in metamorphosis , in particular, is called neoteny and explains the larval or more basic appearance that axolotls present even when they are adults.
  • Another peculiarity is the reproduction of the axolotl , which occurs in early stages due to the fact that the organisms reach sexual maturity quickly. They are oviparous and the female is capable of laying more than 400 eggs, on a single occasion, which will take 10 to 14 days to hatch.
  • Regarding where axolotls live , the truth is that they are endemic animals of North America, especially Mexico, a place where they have not only an ecosystem importance, but also a cultural one.
  • On the other hand, within the characteristics of the axolotl, we can mention its lethargic behavior during the day and its nocturnal activity to feed or reproduce.
  • Finally, we must not overlook the diet of axolotls, whose diet is exclusively carnivorous .

If you wonder how many types of axolotls there are , the truth is that there are 33 species of axolotls . In this section we will mention all the species and we will detail some of them.

Mexican axolotl

Scientifically known as Ambystoma mexicanum , it is the best-known species of axolotl from Mexico. In wildlife, they have a dark coloration, with brown, green and gray tones that allow them to blend in with the environment. However, in captivity there are albino axolotls and other colors, originated by multiple selective crosses carried out to make them even more attractive for pets.

Arroyero axolotl

This species, like the previous one, is endemic to Mexico, particularly in the rivers near the Nevado de Toluca volcano. It is characterized by being black with light spots and gray lips and belly area.

Ajolote from Alchichica

The Alchichica axolotl has a restricted distribution to the Alchichica lagoon, 2300 meters above sea level, in the state of Puebla, Mexico. It has a characteristic yellow coloration with black spots.

Flat-headed axolotl

This species, also endemic to Mexico, has a head twice as long as it is wide. Its coloration is dark with the presence of cream-colored spots along its body.

If you made it this far, you will have noticed how fascinating this species is. To continue the topic, we will tell you some curiosities about axolotls .

What do axolotls eat

As we mentioned earlier, axolotls have an exclusively carnivorous diet. Specifically, they feed on mosquito larvae, tadpoles, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects and fish.

Do axolotls regenerate?

Amazingly yes! They not only have the ability to regenerate their limbs, but also vital organs, such as the heart, brain, and spinal cord. Today the axolotl is considered to be the vertebrate animal with the greatest capacity for cell regeneration. This phenomenon has made the axolotl of great interest to science because its study could increase knowledge about the processes of tissue regeneration.

Axolotls in danger of extinction

According to the Red Lists of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, axolotl species are critically endangered. The main causes that put the existence of the axolotl at risk are: the contamination of its habitat, the sale of its specimens as pets or for use in science and the introduction of exotic species into their environment. Currently, there are several environmental regulations in Mexico that aim to prevent the extinction of the axolotl.

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