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Science & Technology

Cool Creatures: Episode 2, The Axolotl

By Matteo Somma

Volume 2 Issue 2

November 19, 2021

Cool Creatures: Episode 2, The Axolotl

Image provided by BBC

At first glance, the axolotl (ak·suh·laa·tl) may look like a scene from a nightmare, but it actually is a mystical and mysterious creature about which scientists don’t know much.  Indigenous to only Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico, the axolotl inhabited the regions for the last 10,000 years. However, they are now critically endangered. Being a type of salamander, the axolotl is an amphibian, spending most of its time in the water.

Recently, axolotls have been forced into the pet trade, as more are bred in captivity due to more people wanting this mysterious creature as a pet. Unfortunately, this does mean multiple accounts of severe animal neglect occur both in pet stores and at people's homes.  What many don’t realize before buying these animals is how large they grow and how complex their diet is.  Similar to other amphibians, axolotls are carnivores. They require a large variety of foods such as mollusks, different kinds of worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, and even small fish. However, many of these dietary items can be difficult to find.  Axolotls are not just “fish,” they are complex creatures that need adequate care to thrive, let alone survive.

In the wild, as well as in captivity, axolotls are known to be tough and healthy. They can survive in waters as cold as 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  Considering they are from the warm climate of Mexico, that’s pretty impressive! Axolotls are often described as forts stuck in their tadpole phase, due in large part to them having both long tails and legs. Furthermore, axolotls are much larger than normal-sized amphibians, growing up to 18 inches long.

Overall, the axolotl is a super cool, mysterious, and mystical creature. Unfortunately, due to large amounts of pollution, water diversion, and an expanding human population, their habitats are slowly disappearing. However, there is hope for the future, with many captive breeding projects for the species in the works. Thanks for tuning in for Cool Creatures Episode 2!

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