Unique and Critically Endangered: The Axolotl

The axolotl is a very unique type of salamander.  We’ll get more into that with the facts because there’s a lot to delve into. I tried to write it in paragraph form, but there was so much information that it got messy.  Lists are so much neater.

First, I want to note that the axolotl is critically endangered.  There are only 50-1,000 left in the wild.  There are about 1 million in captivity though.  Why?  Axolotls are found in only one area, which is the Xochimilco lake complex near Mexico City.  With the expansion of human civilization, there has been an increase in pollution and some of their territory has dried up completely.  For example, Lake Chaco was a major habitat for axolotls, but it has destroyed.  Other threats are overfishing since they are considered a delicacy and introduction of invasive species like perches.

There is a big self-preservation reason to push for the axolotl to survive and not go extinct too.  They are very important to researching regeneration because they can regrow limbs and organs.  Other species can, but they are one of the few that are able to be bred year round and quickly.  This makes them very useful in finding ways to help our own medical field.  Specifically, their genetic makeup could hold clues towards curing age-related diseases and aging in general.  Not immortality, but to make it that our bodies don’t break down like they tend to do.

So, what are some axolotl facts?

  • They have a rare condition called neoteny.  This means that they don’t lose their larva features when they become adults.
  • The larva features they keep include feathery exterior gills and a rear dorsal fin.
  • Axolotls still grow lungs, which they use to get air from the water’s surface.
  • Unlike other amphibians, they are 100% aquatic and do not leave the water.
  • They come in brown, black, albino, grey, and pale pink colors.
  • Axolotls are larger than other salamanders.
  • Their skeleton is made mostly of cartilage instead of bone.
  • Aztec mythology says that the axolotl is the god of fire and lightning in disguise.
  • Axolotl regeneration has gained attention because their new limbs regrow perfectly and there is no markings between new and old flesh within a few weeks.  This makes it highly efficient.
  • They can regrow the same limb up to five times.
  • Their genome is 10 times the size of humans at 32 billion DNA bases. Two genes have already been identified in connection to regeneration.
  • Axolotls reach sexual maturity at 6 months.
  • They are also called the Mexican Walking Fish.
  • The axolotl is 1,000 times more resistant to cancer than mammals.

Time for some Google Image Searched pictures and YouTube videos.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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26 Responses to Unique and Critically Endangered: The Axolotl

  1. Seems like they’re big in the pet trade, too.


  2. For better or worse, axolotls are having a moment, at least among school kids. I’m seeing tons of axolotl shirts and toys for the under-12 set.


  3. Excellent post on these axolotls, Charles. 50 to 1000 left is a shocking number.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. V.M.Sang says:

    Such a pity there are so few in the wild.
    Introduction of non-native species has done so much damage to nature worldwide.
    The grey squirrel in the UK, rabbits in Australia, rats everywhere. I recently read about how the common house sparrow is actively killing native bird species in the US, cacti caused a problem in Australia, escaped mink in the UK, perch, it seems from your post, in Mexico. The list goes on and on. We interfere with nature at our peril!
    And, of course, pollution. But big business doesn’t care. As long as they can continue to make huge profits, they’ll carry on. Forget the future.


    • Unfortunately a lot of invasive species get introduced by accident. That’s one of the dangers of traveling in general.


      • V.M.Sang says:

        Yes, that’s true, and it can’t be helped, sadly, but some were deliberately introduced. I believe that was the case with rabbits in Australia, and some are introduced by ignorant people releasing creatures like mink instead of trying to educate people into not wearing mink coats! The mink have devastated some small creatures here in the UK, such as water voles.


      • The people who wear mink don’t want to be educated. Though it seems accidental is the major cause. It’s usually animals hiding on ships from what I’m reading.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. noelleg44 says:

    I think this species is rather endearing-looking. I’m glad that people are keeping them in captivity if they are so endangered in the wild. Not the best of all worlds but it should keep them from going extinct in the face of so many environmental threats.


  6. So cute! I love that little expression. It’s a shame that they are so endangered.


  7. Pingback: Unique and Critically Endangered Axolotl | Dragons Rule OK. V.M.Sang (author)

  8. acflory says:

    Amazing creatures. I remember the Offspring’s school had two, and even us grown-ups were fascinated by them.


  9. Neil Maxwell says:

    Regenerative super powers don’t prevent them from facing extinction. Cool animals!


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