card
366

axolotl

OLogy Series
animal
card
366

axolotl

OLogy Series
animal

Most amphibians start their lives in water, and grow up to live on land. But axolotls live their whole lives in water. These salamanders don't change the way other amphibians do. They keep traits like their feathery gills and fins that allow them to breathe and swim underwater.

Axolotls have the amazing ability to:

glow in the dark

regrow entire limbs

climb trees

Are you right?

Correct!

Axolotls can even regrow a crushed spinal cord! Scientists are working to identify the genes involved in this trait. They hope to someday use this knowledge to help humans.

The name axolotl likely comes from the ancient Aztec language, in which it means:

frilly head

water monster

sea breather

Are you right?

Correct!

"Atl" meant water and "xolotl" meant monster. The axolotl appears as a decorative motif in early Mesoamerican culture.

Unlike most frogs and other salamanders, the axolotl retains many of its juvenile traits.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

The most obvious are its gills, the feathery structures on either side of its head. Other remnants of its early life include fins and lidless eyes.

Since axolotls live only in the water, they are not affected by human development in nearby towns and cities.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Axolotls are almost extinct in their natural habitat in Mexico. In some of these areas, humans have polluted lakes, drained them for drinking water, and introduced fish that prey on axolotls.

Scientific Name: Ambystoma mexicanum
Description: aquatic salamanders
Range: lakes in the Valley of Mexico
Diet: amphibians, fish, insects, small invertebrates
Size: up to 12 inches (30 cm)
Lifespan: 5 to 6 years (in captivity)
Status: critically endangered
Cool Fact: Axolotls never develop bulging eyes and eyelids like other salamanders.