Axolotls: types and characteristics - Species guide

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Fish or amphibian? Although the habitat of the axolotl is 100% aquatic, this peculiar animal belongs to the class of amphibians. However, we cannot deny that its appearance is confusing: it has a tail, fins and gills like a fish, but legs like an amphibian, which is why many call it the walking fish. It also has other characteristics that make it particularly unique, not only for the general public, but also for the scientific community.

Due to its extraordinary qualities, in this Green Ecologist post we will develop everything about the types of axolotls and their characteristics. We invite you to continue reading.

What are axolotls and their characteristics

From any point of view, axolotls are extraordinary animals and these are some of their main characteristics:

  • Let's start with the most surprising thing, the physical characteristics of the axolotl. In principle, axolotls have the dorsal fin and gills typical of tadpoles and this is because do not undergo the metamorphosis process characteristic of other amphibians. This phenomenon that does not trigger in metamorphosis, in particular, is called neoteny and explains the larval or more basic appearance that axolotls present even when they are adults.
  • Another peculiarity is the reproduction of the axolotl, which occurs in early stages because organisms reach sexual maturity quickly. They are oviparous and the female is capable of laying more than 400 eggs, on a single occasion, which will take 10 to 14 days to hatch.
  • With respect to where do axolotls live, The truth is that they are endemic animals of North America, especially Mexico, a place where they have not only an ecosystem importance, but also a cultural one.
  • On the other hand, within the characteristics of the axolotl, we can mention its lethargic behavior during the day and its night activity to feed or reproduce.
  • Finally, we must not overlook the feeding of axolotls, whose diet is exclusively carnivorous.

Types of axolotls

If you wonder how many types of axolotls are there, the truth is that they exist 33 species of axolotls. In this section we will mention all the species and detail some of them.

Mexican axolotl

Scientifically known as Ambystoma mexicanum, is the best known species of axolotl in Mexico. In wildlife, they have a dark coloration, with brown, green and gray tones that allow them to blend in with the environment. However, in captivity there are albino axolotls and other colors, originated by multiple selective crosses carried out to make them even more attractive for pets.

Arroyero axolotl

This species (Ambystoma rivulare), like the previous one, is endemic to Mexico, particularly to the rivers near the Nevado de Toluca volcano. It is characterized by being black with light spots and gray lips and belly area.

Axolotl of Alchichica

The axolotl of Alchichica (Ambystoma taylori) has a restricted distribution to the Alchichica lagoon, 2300 meters above sea level, in the state of Puebla, Mexico. It has a characteristic yellow coloration with black spots.

Flat-headed axolotl

This species (Ambystoma amblycephalum), also endemic to Mexico, has a head twice as long as it is wide. Its coloration is dark with the presence of cream-colored spots along its body.

Other types of axolotls

Next we will list the other species of axolotls:

  • Ambystoma altamirani
  • Ambystoma andersoni
  • Ambystoma annulatum
  • Ambystoma barbouri
  • Ambystoma bishopi
  • Ambystoma bombypellum
  • Ambystoma californiense
  • Ambystoma cingulatum
  • Ambystoma dumerilii
  • Ambystoma flavipiperatum
  • Ambystoma gracile
  • Ambystoma granulosum
  • Ambystoma jeffersonianum
  • Ambystoma laterale
  • Ambystoma leorae
  • Ambystoma lermaense
  • Ambystoma mabeei
  • Ambystoma macrodactylum
  • Ambystoma maculatum
  • Ambystoma mavortium
  • Ambystoma opacum
  • Ambystoma ordinarium
  • Ambystoma rosaceum
  • Ambystoma silvense
  • Ambystoma subsalsum
  • Ambystoma talpoideum
  • Ambystoma texanum
  • Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Ambystoma velasci

Curiosities of the axolotls

If you got here, you will have noticed how fascinating this species is. To continue the topic, we will tell you some curiosities of the axolotls.

What do axolotls eat

As we mentioned before, axolotls have an exclusively carnivorous diet. Specifically, they feed on mosquito larvae, tadpoles, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects and fish.

Do axolotls regenerate?

Amazingly, yes! They not only have the ability to regenerate their limbs, but also vital organs, such as the heart, brain, and spinal cord. Today the axolotl is considered to be the vertebrate animal with the greatest capacity for cell regeneration. This phenomenon has made the axolotl of great interest to science because its study could increase knowledge about the processes of tissue regeneration.

Axolotls in danger of extinction

According to the Red Lists of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, axolotl species are critically endangered. The main causes that put the existence of the axolotl at risk are: the contamination of its habitat, the sale of its specimens as pets or for use in science and the introduction of exotic species into its environment. Currently, there are several environmental regulations in Mexico that aim to prevent the extinction of the axolotl.

Here you can learn more about why the Mexican axolotl is in danger of extinction.

If you want to read more articles similar to Axolotls: types and characteristics, we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category.

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