Axolotls are becoming very popular these days, but what exactly is an axolotl?
An axolotl is a neotenic salamander that retains its larval stage throughout its life. An axolotl is also a popular aquarium pet that remains completely underwater like a fish. Axolotls are also lab subjects for research because of their ability to regenerate almost their entire body.
Sounds fascinating right?
Axolotls are fascinating, so let’s explore what they are in more detail…
What Is a Neotenic Salamander?
the retention of juvenile features in the adult animal.
the sexual maturity of an animal while it is still in a mainly larval state, as in the axolotl.Oxford Dictionary
Scientists aren’t completely sure about why axolotls don’t fully develop into a salamander.
The main thesis as of this writing is that axolotls grew up in waters that didn’t have the normal amount of iodine, which would have inhibited the hormone thyroxine. Thyroxine is needed for the axolotl to fully develop into a salamander.
Another theory is that the water temperature kept the thyroxine at bay.
Even another theory is that the axolotl evolved to live underwater because they were safer in the water than on land. This theory has also been referenced to other high elevation critters.
What Is The Difference Between An Axolotl And A Salamander
Blaah blaah anyways, the main difference between axolotls and salamanders is the ability to live on land and water.
Salamanders usually live mostly on land but can still go into the water, while axolotls live their entire lives underwater. Axolotls can go out of the water but they will not survive for very long.
You can also tell an axolotl from a salamander because of their flowing mane of gills. These gills are what truly sets the axolotl apart.
Their gills filter oxygen out of the water while also pushing carbon monoxide back into the water.
Axolotls Are Aquarium Pets
Axolotls are quickly becoming popular aquarium pets because of their unique appearance and personality.
They can grow 7-14 inches so people will say they can live in a 15-gallon tank if you live by the ‘gallon per inch of fish’ rule but we recommend at least a 20-gallon tank to start out for one axolotl and 10 gallons for each additional axolotl, but the more the merrier when it comes to water space for aquariums.
Axolotls have different personalities but they can be fun if you get an active one.
Some axolotls will keep to themselves and not have anything to do with anyone or anything.
However, on the flip side, some axolotls will interact with their owners quite a bit. They will rush to the glass when you enter the room and even tap on the glass to get your attention. This may be all in the name of trying to get some food, but it is fun to watch.
Some axolotls will even follow you back and forth along the glass if you are walking around their tank.
Some Axolotls can be trained to eat from your hand or even do tricks like swimming in a circle before you give them their food.
You are not supposed to hold axolotls but some owners have been able to lay their hand in the tank and the axolotl will lay in their hand.
Axolotls Are Research Subjects
Axolotls can completely regenerate entire limbs or other parts of their body including parts of their brain. There is no scar tissue and you can’t even tell a difference between the body part they lost and the new one.
Axolotls can even regrow parts of their spines.
The hope with research is that humans may be able to regenerate cells of their own and completely regrow lost limbs as axolotls do.
Research of axolotls may help get rid of scar tissue from heart surgeries or even help cure cancer.
Axolotls may even hold the key to anti-aging therapy.
A History of Axolotls. How Did Axolotls Become What They Are Today?
Axolotls originate from one place, the Lake Xochimilco network in Mexico. Over 20 years ago, the government there put several tilapia and carp fish into the water to provide a free food source for a poor city with a bad economy.
The tilapia reproduced much faster than they were caught and ravaged the plant’s axolotls used to lay their eggs.
They also ate the axolotl eggs and many of the baby or younger axolotls, thus decimating the axolotl population.
Luckily, axolotls were saved from extinction, mainly because of their importance to medical research.
They have also found their way into the hands of breeders for the aquarium industry and have several homes in aquariums around the world.
Axolotls are actually classified as endangered.
Axolotls are illegal in some states such as California, Maine, and New Jersey.
If you want to help keep axolotls from becoming extinct and you think you would like one as a pet, it is best to get one from your local pet dealer or order from a reputable axolotl dealer online with a ‘live arrival’ guarantee.