This page contains axolotl facts for kids and adults. Find out all about this weird-looking amphibian's amazing special powers.
This animal is part of the Active Wild Online Zoo: information, pictures and videos of all your favorite animals!
Axolotl Quick Facts
- Other Name(s): Mexican salamander, Mexican walking fish
- Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
- Type of Animal: Amphibian
- Animal Family: Ambystomatidae
- Where Found: Canals & wetlands in the vicinity of Lake Xochimilco, Mexico City, Mexico
- Length: 15 to 45 cm (6 to 18 in.); most are around 23 cm (9 in.)
- Weight: 125 to 180g (4.4 to 6.4oz)
- Conservation Status: Critically Endangered
Watch the video below to see Axolotls in the wild:
Meet The Axolotl: Introduction
The axolotl is an amphibian superhero! It has amazing self-healing powers, and can even grow back lost limbs.
Not only that, the axolotl is also like Peter Pan, and never grows old. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s true that the axolotl rarely undergoes a complete metamorphosis like most other amphibians. It’s like a big tadpole that never turns into a frog.
Despite all of these incredible powers, the axolotl is critically endangered in the wild. We’ll find out why further down the page …
What Is An Axolotl?
The axolotl is a salamander – a type of amphibian with a lizard-like body, a long tail and smooth, moist skin. The axolotl has short legs and widely-spaced eyes. However, what you’ll notice first about the axolotl is its external gill stalks, which look like trees growing on either side of its head!
Healing Powers And Limb Regeneration
If we injure ourselves, once the wound has healed we’re left with a scar. Scar tissue has a different color and texture to skin, and doesn’t have hair.
If an axolotl gets injured, the flesh regrows exactly as it was, with no scarring. This is called regeneration.
In fact, if an axolotl loses an entire limb, another one will grow back in its place, and function as normal.
Even weirder still, sometimes an axolotl will damage a limb, and not only will that limb heal, but another one will grow too, giving the axolotl an extra limb!
Most amphibians undergo a process called metamorphosis. During this process, an amphibian’s body completely changes. The amphibian develops lungs instead of gills, and is able to leave the water.
Axolotls, however, very rarely reach the final stage of metamorphosis. They never lose their gills, and live in the water for all of their lives. This is called neoteny.
Strangely, if an axolotl is injected with a chemical called iodine, it will undergo metamorphosis and change into its adult form.
What Does An Axolotl Eat?
Like all salamanders, the axolotl is a carnivore (meat-eater). Its diet consists of worms, insects, and other invertebrates.
Where Do Axolotls Live In The Wild?
Axolotls were originally found in Lakes Xochimilco and Chalco in central Mexico.
Over a period of many years (starting from Aztec times) Lake Chalco has gradually been drained of water in order to prevent flooding. Today, Lake Chalco has completely disappeared, and with it a large part of the axolotl’s habitat.
Lake Xochimilco is no longer a lake as such, and today only exists as a series of canals in Mexico City.
With a population of over 22 million people, Mexico City is the ninth most populated city in the world. Compare this to the number of axolotls living in the wild, which may be less than one hundred.
You can see where the axolotl lives in the map below:
Why Is The Axolotl An Endangered Species?
The loss of nearly all of the axolotl’s original habitat explains why this amphibian is now rated as being Critically Endangered.
Much of what remains of Lake Xochimilco is polluted, and the already tiny axolotl population continues to get smaller.
The axolotl is now very close to becoming extinct in the wild.
Axolotl Facts For Kids: Questions
Q1. What type of animal is an axolotl?
- a) Mammal
- b) Reptile
- c) Amphibian
Q2. Which of the following best describes the axolotl’s lifestyle?
- a) Lives in the water, then lives on land.
- b) Born on land, then lives in water.
- c) Spends its whole life in the water.
Q3. What is the only country in which the axolotl is found in the wild?
- a) Costa Rica
- b) Mexico
- c) Guatemala
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Axolotl Facts For Kids: Answers
Q1) c; Q2) c; Q3) b