10 Amazing Facts About Axolotls | PetMojo (2024)

Axolotls are popular and bizarre-looking pets, but their history and behaviors only add to their uniqueness and mystery.

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Axolotls are peculiar pets known for their frilly gills and cute little smiles. However, these aquatic amphibians are more than just an appealing appearance. Their history, behaviors, and abilities constantly puzzle and amaze humans.

10. Axolotls are Salamanders That Never Grow Up

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Many juvenile salamanders look like axolotls because they live underwater and have the axolotl’s signature gills. However, when salamanders with aquatic larvae mature, they lose their gills and move onto land. Axolotls keep their larval features their whole lives (known as neoteny), causing them to stay underwater instead of becoming terrestrial.

In rare cases, axolotls can lose their gills and move onto land like most other salamander species (a process known as morphing). A drastic change in environment or certain genes could cause an axolotl to morph. If morphing happens in captivity, the enclosure will need to have space for both land and water.

9. Axolotls are Carnivorous but Don’t Have Teeth

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Don’t let the cute faces fool you, axolotls are predators that only eat meat. In captivity, they primarily eat worms. In the wild, they’ll eat almost anything that’s accessible, which could include insects, worms, small fish, and tadpoles.

However, like many amphibians, axolotls don’t have teeth. When they’re hunting, they will swallow their food whole since they can’t chew it. They may try to swallow items that aren’t food too, such as gravel. Thus, the substrate in an axolotl tank should be either large rocks, fine sand, or no substrate to prevent choking hazards.

8. Axolotls Come in a Rainbow of Colors

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Axolotls are most associated with a light pink color, but there are dozens of other color morphs available. If you want an axolotl as a pet, you can choose from a rainbow of colors, such as albino, brown, green, gold, lavender, and mosaic.

As popular as they are, you will rarely see pink or white axolotls (known as leucistic) in the wild. Most axolotls in the wild are a mix of brown, black, gray, and green, a coloring known as “wild type.”

7. Axolotl Gills May Change Colors

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Axolotl gills are often depicted with vibrant colors, but that’s not always the case. An axolotl’s gills can change colors throughout the day based on their activity levels. An increased blood flow often results in more colorful gills.

When an axolotl is inactive, their gills are typically pale and similarly colored to the rest of their body. When they’re eating or swimming, their gills are often bolder, such as bright red gills on a leucistic axolotl.

6. Axolotls Lay up to 1,000 Eggs

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Female axolotls can lay anywhere from 300 to 1,000 eggs at once. After laying them, the female will usually attach them to rocks, plants, or bedding to prevent predators from finding them. Most axolotl eggs hatch within two to three weeks, and once they hatch, the mom doesn’t help raise the larvae.

Sometimes, axolotls may eat their eggs or larvae because of how small they are. Thus, in captivity, eggs should be kept separate from the adult axolotls just to be safe.

5. Axolotls Are Only Native to One Lake

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In the wild, axolotls are only native to Lake Xochimilco in southern Mexico City. They used to live in Lake Chalco too, but humans drained Lake Chalco to avoid flooding. Sadly, due to their small native range, axolotls are critically endangered in the wild.

If you find a wild axolotl outside of Lake Xochimilco, it likely isn’t an axolotl at all. Instead, it’s probably the larvae of a different salamander species, such as a tiger salamander.

4. “Axolotl” Comes from Aztec Mythology

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The name axolotl comes from the Aztec god, Xolotl. Xolotl is the god of lightning, fire, and death. He’s often depicted with a dog’s head, but some stories say that he transformed into an axolotl to protect himself from being banished and killed. Xoloitzcuintli (the hairless dog breed) is also named after the same god.

It’s suggested that the name axolotl translates to “water dog,” which is a nickname these aquatic amphibians often go by.

3. Axolotls May Help with Cancer Research

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Axolotls are over 1,000 times more resistant to cancer than mammals are. Thus, scientists study these salamanders in hopes of finding a cure for cancer and other medical concerns. While they haven’t come to a conclusion yet, scientists seem hopeful with their findings.

2. Axolotls Can Regenerate Almost Any Body Part

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Most amphibians can regenerate body parts, and axolotls are no exception. Since their skin is so sensitive, it’s easy for them to get hurt, but they can heal themselves by regenerating almost any body part. They can regenerate limbs, gills, jaws, spines, lungs, and even parts of the heart or brain.

However, if an axolotl grows back a body part, it may not look the same as before. Axolotls sometimes try to eat each other’s feet, and they may grow back with a different number of toes.

1. Axolotls Can Regenerate the Same Limb Up to Five Times

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Not only can axolotls regrow limbs, but research shows that they can regrow the same limb up to five times. Every time the body part regenerates, it’s still functional. After losing a limb for the sixth time, it may not grow back at all. Instead, scar tissue may form.

Axolotls are some of the most unusual creatures on earth, and every fact about them just proves that point. It’s no wonder they’re becoming so popular across the internet.

10 Amazing Facts About Axolotls | PetMojo (2024)

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