Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to share some fun facts about a unique little animal: the axolotl. You may be familiar with them as pets, but how much do you know about them in the wild? Read one to find out!
1. Axolotls can only be found naturally in freshwater ponds and rivers of Xochimilco, Mexico, just outside of Mexico City. They are sometimes referred to as “Mexican Walking Fish”, even though they aren’t fish. They’re amphibians.
2. Axolotls are a type of salamander. However, unlike other salamanders, they never leave the water. At the final stage of their growth, they grow lungs and require oxygen from the air. However, they never move onto land.
3. If injured, axolotls are able to completely regenerate their limbs, bones, and even their brains! There is also no scarring whatsoever.
4. Axolotls kept as pets are usually white, but very few wild axolotls have this coloring. Wild axolotls tend to be dark brown or black. White axolotls are called leucistic (not albino) and are specifically bred to be white.
5. The diet of an axolotl is typically comprised of small water bugs, small fish, worms, or fish eggs.
6. In addition to eating their food, axolotls also ingest some gravel when eating off the riverbed or lake floor. They use this gravel to help grind up their food and to regulate buoyancy.
7. In addition be being able to regenerate lost limbs, axolotls also are 1,000 times more resistant to cancer than humans are. For this reason, scientists are studying this ability to see how it can be applied to humans.
8. While the “feathery” adornments on the head of an axolotl might seem like they’re just for show, they are actually the axolotl’s gills. They reach up to the surface to provide them with fresh oxygen.
9. The axolotl has very few predators naturally. Most of them are birds. Invasive species such as perch and tilapia also prey on them, which is putting axolotls in a more vulnerable position.
10. The name “axolotl” comes from two Aztec words meaning “water” and “dog”. Though stories are varied, in mythology, the axolotl is a spirit who was afraid to go to the Underworld after death and so hid in the water. Now they are not permitted to leave their hiding place.
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