All about the axolotl

Able to regrow limbs and regenerate organs, the axolotl is an amphibian with a difference. This odd-looking amphibian can only be found in Mexico, and the ancient Aztecs believed it was a manifestation of the god of the underworld, Xolotl, due to its amazing regeneration abilities.

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Axolotls are incredibly endangered in the wild.

 

They can detect electrical fields 

Axolotls can detect the weak electrical charge produced by movement of other animals or even just droplets hitting the waters surface above. This is similar to electroreception in sharks, but axolotls don’t use it to hunt. It helps them to navigate murky Mexican canals.

They never grow up

When other salamanders reach adulthood they lose their gills and fins to make the transitions from water to land. An axolotl retains its juvenile characteristics because it doesn’t produce certain growth hormones, and despite having lungs ready for land, axolotls never leave the aquatic larval stage.

They regenerate complex organs

Axolotls can heal wounds, re-grow limbs and even generate new organs if they become damaged. Two compound proteins, both of which are found in humans, work together to form a mass of regenerative cells that can produce an entire limb in 40 days.

Male axolotls dance to attract females

To initiate courtships, males preform a ‘hula’ dance with their tail, nudging the female. He then deposits several cone-shaped packages of sperm on nearby rocks and plants, for the female to then fertilise her eggs. A female axolotl can lay up to 400 eggs a day.

They vacuum up food

Axolotls can’t chew their food because they only have rudimentary teeth. This means that they grip squirming prey with their teeth while sucking food into the mouth like a vacuum. Axolotls hunt worms, insect larvae, and small fish, swallowing them whole.

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Read next:

Can animals regenerate body parts?

 

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