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A cute aquatic creature, native to Mexico, which makes a great pet. Axolotls are cool because they are amphibians, yet choose to remain in the water because it's a nice place to be. Axolotls like to spend their days standing around and hiding in flowerpots.

The axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum, is a large salamander native to Lake Xochimilco, Mexico. It belongs to the group of salamanders known as mole salamanders.
The axolotl is dark colored with greenish mottling. Sometimes there are silvery patches on the skin. The eyes have yellow, iridescent irises. Adult axolotls can reach about 9-12 inches in length from nose to tail, and they can weigh as much as 300 grams. They usually live to around 6-8 years but can live to 15 or even 25 years. They bear three pairs of feathery gills and are plump and short-legged. If conditions are unfavorable they may fail to metamorphose, staying in the larval stage and keeping their gills but can still reproduce. Axolotls are carnivores. They eat water insects and insect larvae, small fish, worms, Daphnia, and similar small aquatic life.
Indiana University in Bloomington has an axolotl colony in their biology department. The IU Axolotl Colony breeds normal and unusual varieties of axolotls and ships embryos, larvae, and adult salamanders out to labs and schools across the United States.

The unusual varieties bred in the colony include black (melanistic) ones, albino ones, and even eyeless ones, which researchers say don't miss out on much, since normal axolotls have poor vision and mostly rely on their sense of smell to find food and mates.

Axolotls are of interest to researchers partly because of their neoteny. But they've been used in more current biomedical research because they have the ability to regenerate missing limbs and can even regenerate portions of their central nervous systems. In addition to regeneration studies, axolotls are favored for a variety of other types of research because they are large, docile and easy to care for.

All wild axolotl populations are endangered because of water pollution and human encroachment on their habitat.

For more information, visit: http://www.indiana.edu/~axolotl/

Ax"o*lotl (?), n. [The native name.] Zool.

An amphibian of the salamander tribe found in the elevated lakes of Mexico; the siredon.

⇒ When it breeds in captivity the young develop into true salamanders of the genus Amblystoma. This also occurs naturally under favorable conditions, in its native localities; although it commonly lives and breeds in a larval state, with persistent external gills. See Siredon.


© Webster 1913.

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