The axolotl might seem small and insignificant– with its small legs, tiny feet, and long flowing tail.
It grows to a maximum length of about 30 centimeters– and survives only 10 or 12 years in captivity.
But the axolotl is a magical being, a salamander that lived in Lake Xochimilco at the time of the Aztecs and before the horrors of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico.
The axolotl is unique because it remains a larva– a free-living innocent embryo– swimming through the water.
Because of this, the axolotl can regenerate– growing back its tail, limb, nervous system, eyes, heart and even its brain! Miraculous, isn’t it?
The source of this name is Xolotl, the Aztec god of Fire and Lightning, who transformed himself into an axolotl to escape from his enemies. The axolotl itself is a master of camouflage!
Sadly, its natural habitat– Lake Texcoco– has been transformed into the canals that crisscross Mexico City, and the sewage systems are churning out toxic chemicals into the axolotl’s last remaining natural home.
Only a few hundred axolotls still live in the wild but tens of thousands have survived in laboratories and aquariums, most of them originating in a single group of 34 that French scientists captured in 1863. The axolotl has become an important lab model for everything from tissue repair to cell development and cancer.
So this is your big chance to save one or two of these magical beings from the horrors of modern science!
Just do it, get an aquarium and give them a home and a life!
The axolotl’s journey from their native lakes to the labs of science has led to their different morphs and colors.
Here are 17 different morphs and colors that we found…
- Pale White or Pinkish Leucistic Morphs
- Albino Morphs
- Axanthic Morphs
- Melanoid Morphs
- Wild Axlotls
- Golden Albinos
- Mosaic Axolotls
- Copper Axolotls
- Lavender Axolotls
- Black Melanoids
- Speckled Leucistic
- Heavily Marked
- Green Fluorescent Protein
Breeds or Color Morphs?
So are there different breeds of axolotls?
In general terms, breeds are groups of domestic animals that have similar appearance or behavior that separate them from other organisms of the same species. Breeds are formed through genetic isolation, adaptation to the environment, or selective breeding.
But in practice, it is the breeders themselves that decide if specific members of a species are also members of a subset or breed.
One other requirement is that individuals of the same breed pass these predictable traits to their offspring
So the axolotl species does seem to be divided into breeds– there are more than 20 different colors of axolotl and these colors can be passed on to their offspring!
Breeds of dogs and cats have more differences than just color. There is a big range of differences between a Great Dane and a Chihuahua or a Maine coon and a Siamese cat– they have different sizes, shapes, behaviors, and personalities!
Since the only difference between one group of reptiles or amphibians and another is color and pattern– reptiles and amphibians such as the axolotl are divided into morphs rather than breeds.
Labrador dogs, for example, have two morphs– golden Labradors and black Labradors.
The axolotl species has more than 20 color morphs!
The axolotls lay between 150 and 450 eggs over the course of about two days. Golden albinos and white albinos lay white eggs, other color morphs lay black eggs.
Don’t disturb the female while she is laying. Move the eggs out of the tank into a shallow tub.”The eggs hatch best at a temperature of around 68°F.
The embryos start moving, spinning, twitching, and hatching after about 17 days.
Once the eggs start to hatch it is about three days before all of these beautiful eggs are hatched.”
Types and Colors
The color of axolotls depends upon pigment cells– chromatophores.
There are three types of chromatophores– melanophores (that contain dark pigments), xanthophores (that include yellow and red pigments), and iridophores (that impart a crystal, shiny iridescence).
Each cell has 14 chromosomes, and each characteristic has a pair of chromosomes or alleles.
So axolotls that have one albino allele and one normal allele are not albino. She needs two copies of the albino allele in order to become albino.
The axolotls that have dark parents tend to be dark too. The axolotls that live in darker places are also darker– like we said– because axolotls are masters of camouflage!”
The Most Popular Morphs
Pale White or Pinkish Leucistic Morphs
Leucistic axolotls are the most popular morph– translucent white with chips of pure gold, red or pink gills, and dark soulful eyes.
Leucistic axolotls are very rare in the wild because predators would spot them and gobble them up– but their colors sing like angels in captivity!
Leucism is caused by a mutation that results in fewer melanocytes– dark pigments– being produced in the skin.
How would you like a baby pink axolotl– with her pale white body– and her sweet white gills?
She might have spots and freckles to camouflage her in the beginning– but as time goes by, her beauty begins to shine!
The white albino axolotls are”pure white with red gills and pink or white eyes– the young ones are almost transparent.
The golden albino can be born white– but turns golden over time. Iridophores can produce iridescent stripes and spots.
How would you like a pure white or golden axolotl to light up your life?”
These don’t have xanthophores or yellow pigments– so they look cool!
Here the melanophores– the dark pigment cells– can turn the axolotl pitch black!
How would you like a cool, mysterious melanoid around?
Fourteen Important Types and Colors of Axolotls
So here to finish– or at least to stir up your imagination– are fourteen important types of the axolotl.
The Wild Bunch!
The wild untamed axolotls of Lake Xochimilco and of Xolotl, the Aztec god of Fire and Lightning are dark grayish-green or brown and have specks of gold spattered over their bodies.
This is the original color of the axolotls that were captured by the French scientists in 1863 and dragged off to the laboratories in Paris.
This combination of green, brown, and black helped them to camouflage themselves under the murky water– keeping them safe from predators– but not from Man!
The yellow-green axolotls have dark eyes and golden irises– how can you resist their gaze?
Golden albino axolotls range from”pure white to peach or gold.”
The young ones are like white albinos– but as time goes by, and as they age, they turn golden like the sun!
The xanthophores give them their golden hue– the iridophores spatter them in gold leaf.
The piebald gene gives the piebald axolotls their black and white markings.
Piebalds are pale white leucistic morphs with a concentration of dark melanophores on their heads and backs. This is a result of the movement of cells during their development.
The dark symmetrical patches tend to be on their top half– seldom on their sides and legs.
But how cool is that in any case!
Mosaic axolotls are”mottled– they have black, white, and golden splashes of color.
These axolotls are the result of two eggs fusing into one. Instead of being split down the middle, each cell displays colors from either parent.
This is not a result of breeding– mosaic axolotls are a miracle of Nature!
Copper-colored axolotls have a light gray body with copper-colored or caramel freckles and gray irises. They have grayish-red gills and light bodies.
Copper-colored axolotls have cute, speckled faces and sandy colors that make them impossible to resist their charm.
There are even copper melanoid axolotls– black bodies, copper freckles– gorgeous but very, very rare!
The lavender axolotl has a purple hue, grayish-red gills, and black eyes. Their bodies have cute gray spots like Dalmation dogs!
Their soft purple shades and their dots attract collectors like moths to a flame!
This recessive mutation is the opposite of the albino morph axolotl.
Melanoid species have more melanophores and fewer iridophores.
Melanoid morphs range from dark green to black– their bellies are gray or purple.
You yourself can transform the appearance of these magical axolotls– white sand in the aquarium lights them up– dark sand turns them black as coal!
Speckled Leucistic Axolotls
Speckled leucistic axolotls have”dark specks”on their white heads, tails, and back.
They begin life as pale as the leucistic axolotl but develop their speckled character as they age!
The Chimera is split right down the middle into left and right halves– half-wild axolotl—and half albino
How weird and amazing is that!
Two axolotl eggs are fused into one– a developmental accident.
These axolotls look like their heads have been split straight down the middle– two different morphs are staring straight back at you through the glass!
The Heavily Marked Ones
The heavily marked melanoid axolotls have the black bodies of the melanoids– but have are a unique variation of the black melanoid morph.
They have the same black and purplish-gray spots of normal black melanoids– but have light green or yellow patches too.
These heavy markings are a surprise to breeders too!
Green Fluorescent Protein axolotls might look like other morphs– but this is only a trick of the light.
Once exposed to UV light, they turn bright fluorescent green!
The lighter the skin, the brighter the glow!
Sadly, the evil scientists at the Max Planck Institute did this to them in 2005.
Cancer researchers extracted this fluorescent gene from jellyfish and transplanted it into these magical beings.
How cruel is that?
How would these researchers like to turn bright fluorescent green?
Come to think of it– didn’t that happen to Banister, aka the Incredible Hulk?”” “
Biologist Lloyd Strohl created firefly axolotls in his lab.
These wild-type axolotls have green fluorescent protein albino tails that glow under a black light.
How would Strohl like a taste of his own medicine?
The Enigma Code!
The Enigma morph is dark gray with a white belly and toes, pale red gills, gold eyes, and gold patches all over.
She is a wild axolotl with a high number of iridophores– and only one has been invented or discovered to date.
Hence the enigma!
The Rarest One Of All?
The rarest axolotl of all– at least the rarest that has been discovered is the Enigma morph– her golden iridophores have made her unique and uniquely desirable!
Blue, Cyan [dark/greenish-blue], and Pink?
Blue or cyan axolotls? No way! Not in a blue or cyan moon!
There are only three types of chromatophores– melanophores (dark pigments), xanthophores (yellow and red pigments), and iridophores (iridescence).
No combination of these chromatophores could make blue or cyan.
The blue or cyan axolotls that are circulating the Internet have been lit, filtered, or photoshopped blue or cyan!
But like we said, the pink axolotls are common but so pretty that we are sure you just can’t say no to her!
She might have spots in the beginning but as time goes by her beauty– her pale pink skin and dark soulful eyes– will leave you for dead!
Finally, The Average Cost Of Your Axolotl Dream In US Dollars
40 dollars, the wild or the white albino axolotl
45 dollars, the Leucistic morph
50 dollars, the golden albino or the speckled Leucistic albino
55 dollars, the laboratory-generated Green Fluorescent Protein axolotl
75 dollars, the heavily marked melanoid axolotl
115 dollars, the Lavender
300 dollars, the Piebald axolotl
The cost of the Mosaic or the Enigma … watch this space!