The Axolotl is a unique and fascinating species of salamander, it has captured the attention of many scientists and nature enthusiasts, because of its remarkable abilities and distinctive appearance.
From its ability to regenerate lost body parts to its neotenic characteristics, the axolotl is a species that continues to intrigue and inspire us.
In this Blog Post, I will explore some of the most interesting and important aspects of Axolotl biology. – If Axolotls can be found in the Ocean, Where there natural habitat is, how long they can live, and why they are currently considered an endangered species.
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What is an Axolot?
Axolotls, also known by the scientific name Ambystoma Mexicanum, they are the rarest variety of aquatic salamander globally. Axolotls are often referred to as “Mexican walking fish” – due to their aquatic lifestyle, but an Axolotl is Not fish at all. Axolotls spend most of their lives in water and ca survive on land for around only one hour!
Axolotls are unique, because they are able to regenerate lost body parts – such as limbs and even parts of their spinal cord. Axolotls have a distinctive appearance with feathery gills on the sides of their heads, these feathery gills are used to breathe in water.
Axolotls have become popular as exotic pets and are often kept in aquariums – they are also used in scientific research – because of their regenerative abilities, which have implications for regenerative medicine.
Do Axolotls Live In The Ocean?
No, Axolotls Do Not Live in the Ocean!
Axolotls are exclusively found in freshwater habitats – such as lakes, ponds, and canals. Axolotls are also commonly kept as pets and are often housed in aquariums or other freshwater setups.
Although axolotls are capable of surviving in brackish water for short period of time – they cannot tolerate saltwater environments for long – and Axolotls would not be able to survive in the ocean.
Read also about the fascinating Firefly Axolotl!
Where Do Axolots Live?
Axolotls are found in the wild only in the Xochimilco Canals and Lake Chalco in central Mexico. Both, the Xochimilco canals and Lake Chalco are located in the Valley of Mexico, which is part of the Basin of Mexico.
Axolotls are indigenous to this region, and their range is quite limited. The Xochimilco canals are a series of artificial canals that were created by the ancient Aztecs to farm crops on the shallow lake beds.
The Xochimilco canals are still used today for agriculture and transportation – they are home to a small population of wild axolotls.
Lake Chalco was a former endorheic lake situated in the Valley of Mexico, which was crucial to the cultural development of central Mexico during the Mesoamerican period. The lake derived its name from the ancient city of Chalco, located on its eastern shore before the lake was drained.
Lake Chalco has been drained and reduced in size due to human activity, and its axolotl population has declined significantly in recent years.
Axolotl – Freshwater or Saltwater:
Axolotls can not live in Saltwater and are unable live in the Ocean. Axolotls are freshwater animals and require a specific range of water conditions to survive, including a vey low level of salinity.
Axolotls are able to tolerate slightly brackish water for short periods, but they cannot survive in full-strength saltwater environments like the ocean.
Exposure to high levels of salt can be harmful to an Axolotls health and will be even be fatal. If you are considering keeping axolotls as auarium pets, it is essential to provide them with a suitable freshwater aquarium environment that meets their specific requirements.
How Long Can Axolotls Stay Underwater?
Axolotls are fully aquatic animals and can stay underwater for extended periods of time. They breathe through their feathery external gills, which extract oxygen from the water, and they also have lungs that allow them to take in atmospheric oxygen when they swim to the water’s surface.
Axolotls can remain submerged for several hours at a time without needing to come up for air. However, it’s important to note that they still require adequate oxygen levels in the water to breathe, and the water in their environment should be well-oxygenated to support their respiratory needs.
If the water is not oxygenated enough, axolotls may start to show signs of stress, such as gasping at the surface or becoming lethargic.
Axolotls are freshwater salamanders that can not survive in the Ocean, they are found only in the Xochimilco canals and Lake Chalco in central Mexico.
They are fully aquatic and can remain underwater for extended periods. Axolotls require specific water conditions to survive and cannot live in saltwater or the ocean.
How Long Do Axolots Live?
Axolotls have a relatively long lifespan for a salamander – Axolotls are typically living for 10 to 15 years in captivity. However; their lifespan in the wild is relatively unknown, and it is maybe shorter – due to factors such as predation, disease, and other environmental stressors.
An Axolotls lifespan of will be affected by various factors: The quality of their living environment, diet, “Axolotl Genetics“, and level of care.
In Home Auariums, Axolotls can thrive if their habitat is well-maintained with appropriate water quality, temperature, and filtration.
Axolotls require a diet of foods rich in protein – such as worms, insects, and small fish! Axolotls can be susceptible to health issues such as fungal infections and bacterial diseases – if their environment is not kept very clean.
Are Axolotls an Endangered Species
Sad but True: Axolotls are classified as an Endangered-Species by the “International Union for Conservation of Nature” (IUCN). The Axalotls population has significantly declined in recent years.
Factors like: Habitat loss, Degradation, Ppollution, and the introduction of non-native invasive species to their natural habitat.
Axolotls are native to Mexico, and their range is limited to the Xochimilco canals and Lake Chalco in central Mexico. Lake Chalco has been drained, and the remaining population of axolotls is restricted to the Xochimilco canals, where they face threats from habitat loss and degradation caused by urbanization and agriculture.
Many efforts are underway to conserve the remaining wild population of axolotls, including habitat restoration projects, some captive breeding programs, and public education initiatives.
How Many Axolots are Still Alive in the Wild?
It is difficult for scientists to estimate the exact number of axolotls that are still alive their wild habitat! In the past, axolotls were relatively abundant in their limited range in the Xochimilco canals and Lake Chalco in central Mexico.
A 2019 survey conducted by Mexico’s National Autonomous University (UNAM) estimated that there were only around 50 -1000 wild axolotls remaining in the Xochimilco canals.
This frightening low number highlights the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect this species from extinction in the wild.
According to legend: Axolotls are believed to be Aztec gods of fire and lightning; Xolotl, who transformed himself into a salamander to avoid being sacrificed.
However, these aquatic amphibians are remarkable creatures in their own right, possessing unique abilities such as limb regeneration and neoteny.
Unlike other salamanders, Axolotls undergo metamorphosis – they retain their juvenile characteristics throughout their lives – a phenomenon known as neoteny.
This means that they never outgrow their larval stage, and they retain their external gills, feathery appendages on the sides of their heads that they use to breathe in water, instead of developing lungs like other adult salamanders.
The ability of Axolotls to regenerate lost limbs and other body parts is another extraordinary feature of axolotls that has captivated scientists for many years!