Saturday, April 23, 2011


The axolotl ( Ambystoma mexicanum) is a species of amphibian.  It is also known as the water monster or the Mexican walking fish.  It is critically endangered  due to urbanization and polluted waters in Mexico.  Axolotl is even eaten by many locals.

Physical Features
A leucistic axolotl 
A mature male axolotl can measure 15 to 45 cm long but many specimens can be 24 cm which is quite common.  As they are salamanders, they share many features with them like having external gills and a caudal fin that starts at the head and ends at the vent.  Males differ from females as the have a swollen cloaca.  Females look different from males they have wide bodies that are filled with eggs.  Axolotls have underdeveloped limbs that have thin and long digits.  They have a very wide head that contains lidless eyes.  There are three pairs of gill stalks present behind their head.  Below these gills, there are four pairs of gill slits.  They are often mistaken for mudpuppies, tiger salamanders and waterdogs.

Being a carnivorous, axolotls eat small prey such as worms, small fish and different insects.  They detect their food with the help of smell and will 'snap', any potential food.  It will suck its pray to its stomach with vacuum force.

Distribution and Habitat
Axolotls live in a high altitude body of water that is surrounded by terrestrial surface which can by risky.  They are found in Mexico which is in North America.  Axolotl are only native to  Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco which is present in central Mexico.

Conservation Status
The axolotl is rated as critically endangered by the IUCN.  The Mexican tiger salamanders breeds and lives in the same place as axolotls, which is a threat for them.  They no more exist in Lake Chaclo as the lake itself was artificially drained to avoid periodic floods.  Now, Lake Xochimilco is a diminished glimpse of its former self and has mainly canals present in it.  Axolotls were in the diet of many locals, but now, fewer locals eat them.

Source of pic 1 and pic 2 

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