Axolotl

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Range
Found in Lake Chalco and Xochimilco of the Valley of Mexico near Mexico City, Mexico

Habitat
High-altitude lakes near Mexico City

Distinguishing Characteristics
Axolotls are aquatic salamanders. They are neotenic, which means that they retain certain larval characteristics in the adult state. Those larval characteristics include feathery external gills and finned tails for swimming. Most specimens never go through metamorphosis, yet are still able to reproduce from about one year of age.

Dietary Classification
Diet in the Zoo: pinkies, smelt, crickets, & earthworms

Diet in the Wild: anything they can catch, including mollusks, fish, and arthropods as well as each other.

Life Span
5 to 6 years in captivity, but some have lived 10 to 15 years

Behavior/Adaptations
* During courtship, each animal nudges the other eventually leading to a “waltz” with both animals moving in a circle. Then the male moves away while undulating the posterior part of his body and tail resembling a “Hula dance”, and the female follows.

* One popular translation of the word “axolotl” comes from native Aztec meaning, water slave, water servant, water sprite, water player, water monstrosity, water twin, or water dog, referring to the Aztec god Xoloti, patron of the dead.

Status
Listed as Vulnerable by IUCN. Cites Appendix II - trade must be controlled. Their native habitat is nearly gone. Lake Chalco is gone and Lake Xochimilco is nothing more than a scattering of canals and swamps, but axolotl’s still remain there in moderate numbers.