When you first see an axolotl, you might think these little critters come from outer space. However, these cuties are actually found in the wild in Mexico, or in homes and aquariums around the world. With their captivating looks, it’s not hard to see why the axolotl has been the inspiration for many things, including two pokemon — Mudkip and Wooper.
Are They Amphibians or Fish?
While many know this fascinating creature as the axolotl, it’s also routinely known as the Mexican Walking Fish or the Walking Fish. However, the Mexican Walking Fish isn’t a fish at all. The axolotl is actually an aquatic salamander. Most salamanders will go through an aquatic larval form before they become adults. In their larval form, they look like large tadpoles and have the fun looking crown created by their external gills. Unlike other salamanders, axolotls never lose their external gills or start walking on land. Instead, they spend their entire lives underwater.
The Fate of the Mexican Walking Fish
In the wild, Axolotls are found in exactly one lake in the entire world — Lake Xochimilco near Mexico City, Mexico. Previously they were also found in Lake Chalco. Unfortunately, Chalco was drained in the 1980s over fears that the lake would flood. While axolotls may be popular pets, their numbers are rapidly dropping in the wild. In 1998, researchers found around 2,300 axolotls in a square mile, but by 2014 they were down to seeing 14 in the same sized area. In fact, scientists even declared them extinct in the wild in 2015, but luckily they managed to find some wild axolotls not long after.
In the wild, axolotls face a variety of threats. Chemical runoff from the local farms is a major issue as their sensitive skin absorbs all of those toxic chemicals. Large carp and other non-native fish have also been introduced to Lake Xochimilco. These non-native fish compete for the same food as the axolotls and will even eat baby axolotls.
With the help of aquariums like SeaQuest Folsom, California and private keepers, the Axolotl isn’t likely to go extinct anytime soon. Until they clear up the issues in Lake Xochimilco, the axolotl can’t be released back into the wild. Hopefully, it won’t be long before they’re able to help conserve the species in their wild habitat.
- Axolotls have very poor eyesight and rely on their excellent sense of smell to help them find their food. In the wild, they can be found in the dark muddy bottom of Lake Xochimilco, so they prefer dimmer habitats.
- The average axolotl will live to be 10 - 15 years old.
- Axolotls can lay up to 1,100 eggs at a time
- They can regrow their feet, legs, spinal cords, and even part of their brain!
- Axolotls in the wild eat worms, tadpoles, insects, small fish, and crustaceans. In captivity, they can be fed earthworms, shrimp, fish pellets, and strips of beef and liver.
Axolotls aren’t the only odd creature we have at SeaQuest Folsom, California. If you’re hoping to take a look at other unusual looking animals, be sure to come meet Pokey the Crested Porcupine at SeaQuest Layton, Utah. If you’re looking to meet a friend from the deep sea, take a look at our Comb Jellies.
If you’d like to see the amazing axolotl in person, come by SeaQuest Folsom, California in person today!
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