Fast Facts: Axolotl

On Exhibit posts

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Native to freshwater lakes in Mexico, axolotls are popular aquarium pets.

Wikimedia Commons/LoKiLeCh


With its frilly gills and variety of colorations, the axolotl is a popular pet in aquariums around the world. Native to lakes near Mexico City, these salamanders go their whole lives without leaving their watery habitats. 

  • The name axolotl is believed to come from the ancient Aztec language nahuatl, and translates roughly as “water monster.”
  • Axolotls have the amazing ability to regrow entire limbs repeatedly. They experience no scarring, and can even regrow injuries as grievous as a crushed spinal cord! 
  • Unlike most frogs and other salamanders, which move to land as adults, the axolotl lives its whole life underwater, retaining many of its juvenile traits.
  • The feathery structures on either side of the axolotl’s head are its gills.
  • Scientists are working to identify the genes involved in the axolotl’s incredible regenerative abilities in hopes of one day applying what they learn to human medicine. 

Visitors to the Museum can soon get up close and personal with a tank of axolotls, which will be among the live animals on display in Life at the Limits, which opens April 4 and is free for Members.