axolotl is axolote (Ambystoma Mexicanum) is a amphibian type of salamander which has the rare trait of retaining its larval characteristics throughout its adult life. This condition, called neotenia, means that it maintains its tadpole-shaped dorsal fin, which runs almost the length of its body, and its feathery external gills, which protrude from the back of its broad head.

The axolotl is a popular amphibian in fish tanks. Albinos are bred in captivity.
The axolotl is a popular amphibian in fish tanks. Albinos are bred in captivity.

Features

The exceptional axolotl is part of the family of the 'salamandras topo', but exhibits an unusual and extreme trait known as neotenia is pedomorphosis. It is about the retention of the characteristics of the larval stage throughout life, so that they never completely resemble a salamandra adult. Unlike other amphibians, most of these animals do not metamorphose and live permanently in water. Although it develops lungs, the strangest feature is the retention of its gills. These are external projections of the neck on either side of the head. Each side has three branches covered with feathery filaments that increase the surface area for gas exchange. It has a long, slim, dark-colored body and short legs, with four toes on the front legs and five on the back. Albino individuals have been bred in captivity, but it is not known whether they live in the wild.

A kind of fascination for scientists around the world, it has many features worth studying. Although it can remain in larval form for its entire life, it can transform into a fully adult Mexican salamander if its habitat dries up. Also, instead of forming scar tissue when injured, the tissues at the wound site convert to a stem cell-like state, which means they are able to regrow lost tissue in its entirety, even a whole limb.

The axolotl is a close relative of the tiger salamander, they can be quite large, reaching up to 30 cm long, although the average size is closer to half that. They are typically mottled black or brown in color, but albino and white varieties are somewhat common, particularly among captive specimens.

Its aquatic but they also have rudimentary lungs.

Behavior

It is inactive during the day, resting on the substrate with its gills open. They move slowly and may surface occasionally for a breath of air.

Habitat

The axolotl differ from most other salamanders in that they live permanently in the water. In extremely rare cases, it will progress to maturity and emerge from the water, but generally, they are content to remain at the bottom of lakes and canals.

Distribution

The axolotl has a peculiarity: It is found exclusively in the Xochimilco lake complex, near Mexico City.

Food

Young axolotls feed on algae, but older individuals feed on invertebrates aquatic. They are adapted to eat a variety of foods. Their eating habit includes trout and salmon waste, bloodworms, waxworms, earthworms, and feeder fish.

They often show cannibalism. They are carnivores, but their rudimentary teeth are used for grasping rather than biting. They use their teeth to grab slippery objects like the earthworm. They also like live foods that can be found in water. But there are risks for disease because protozoa and parasitic infections are often common.

Predators

The most common animal predators are birds, including storks and herons. However, the introduction of big fish in lakes and canals has meant adding this natural threat to their survival as well. Species such as tilapia and carp have been introduced to be a food source for consumption human, but these fish feed on the axolotl.

The axolotl normally has a grayish color.
The axolotl normally has a grayish color.

Reproduction

Although it remains in larval form throughout its life, it matures sexually between 12 and 18 months of age. Males dance to initiate courtship, pushing the female before depositing several cone-shaped packets of sperm, known as spermatophores, on rocks and plants. These are collected by the cloaca of the female, for the internal fertilization of her eggs. They are oviparous animals. It lays the eggs 24 hours later, each one wrapped in mucus as it emerges. They stick to each other and to the substrate where they incubate for two to three weeks. A single female can produce up to 400 eggs in a day, with an average of 175-200.

State of conservation

Populations are in decline as demands from nearby Mexico City have led to drainage and contamination of much of the waters of the Lake Xochimilco complex. They are also popular in the aquarium trade, and the roasted axolotl is considered a delicacy in Mexico, further reducing their numbers. They are considered a critically endangered species.

Relationship with humans

The human They are also a threat to axolotls because they capture these curious-looking animals. They catch them for display them in aquariums, although improper conditions in captivity will make them refuse to eat and they will die. Other captors sell them for food. These animals in the wild they survive much longer.

The tradition of using them as food is not new: it comes from the Aztec nation in the pre-Columbian period. Roasted axolotls are considered a delicacy by modern consumers, although they are increasingly difficult to find in Mexican markets. Another way that humans are a threat to these amphibians is their usefulness in scientific experiments, they can regenerate body parts, so that what is a survival mechanism for them in nature has become a threat to their survival. They are intended to be used by scientists who study them in order to gain a better understanding of evolution.

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