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Interesting Axolotl Facts

| Amphibians | July 12, 2013

Axolotls are incredibly fascinating and interesting creatures and if you are not familiar with them I encourage you to take a moment and read this blog post listing various axolotl facts.  I believe that once you finish you will be similarly amazed. Frankly there are downright bizarre in my estimation.

First and foremost, their name is intriguing.  The axolotl possesses an Aztec sounding name and is also known as the Mexican Salamander and the “water dragon”.  You can only find axolotls in the wild in one particular place and that is in a canal system of Lake Xochimilcho. For that reason they are officially listed as an endangered species.

axolotlfactsSo you may be curious to know how it is possible that there are ads listing axolotls for sale here at Exotic Pets Headquarters.  The ads listing axolotls for sale are from captive-bred stock dating back to 1830.

The Anti-Amphibian

Amphibians typically hatch in the water as the offspring to an adult where they grow and swim around in a tadpole/larvae-like state.  During this time they use gills to breathe underwater before developing lungs and acquiring the ability to migrate to land where they mature and spend the rest of their lives.  Axolotls are unique in that they never undergo the metamorphosis and thus spend their entire lives in the water.  Essentially, they never reach “adult maturity” but retain the ability to procreate.  This is called neotony.

There is another odd twist in the story of the axolotl. Axolotls are capable of undergoing a sex change-like metamorphosis.  When iodine levels in the water increase to a certain level or if the hormone thyroxine is introduced into the diet, these permanent amphibian children will change into an adult.  When this occurs, they slowly lose their external gills, the tail shrinks and it will slowly take to land and become the Mexican Salamander.

The Silence of the Axolotls – Regenerative Cannibals

It is recommended that axolotls be kept in separate tanks while in captivity because they have a tendency to nibble off each other’s limbs.  The upside is that the limbs will grow back because they have regenerative capabilities.  In fact, scientists spend quite a bit of resources studying these animals in the hope that they might be able to learn what causes this and be able to apply these findings to human beings with missing appendages.

Axolotl appendages will regrow over a period of roughly eight weeks and regain their full range of motion.  Prof. Stephane Roy at the University of Montreal, who is looking at tissue regeneration in vertebrates says,

“You can cut the spinal cord, crush it, remove a segment, and it will regenerate. You can cut the limbs at any level – the wrist, the elbow, the upper arm – and it will regenerate, and it’s perfect. There is nothing missing, there’s no scarring on the skin at the site of amputation, every tissue is replaced. They can regenerate the same limb 50, 60, 100 times. And every time: perfect.”

Glow in the Dark

One more little axolotl fact for you.  Did you know that you guy buy neon green species that glow under an ultraviolet light?  See for yourself at the following link.  These are just a few interesting tidbits about this fascinating creature and I hope you found these axolotl facts as fascinating as I do.  If you are interested in purchasing on of these little guys, please see our listings of axolotls and other exotic animals for sale.

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