7 Axolotl Facts
This adorable creature is a type of Salamander which is found in Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico. It certainly looks unreal with its cartoon-ish figured face and smile. What’s more is the coral-like horns coming out its head which, surprisingly, are its gills. The filaments attached to the gills increase the surface area for gas exchange. Here’s more to know about this amazing animal:
1. The Axolotl can regenerate its brain, heart, liver, kidney, skin, tail and limbs.
“You can cut off the spinal cord, crush it, remove a segment, and it will still regenerate. You can cut the limbs at any level – the wrist, elbow, the upper arm – and it will still regenerate, and it’s perfect. There is nothing missing, there’s no scarring on the skin at the site of amputation, every tissue is replaced. They can regenerate the same limb 50, 60, 100 times. And every time: Perfect.” Stated Prof. Stephanie Roy at the University of Montreal.
2. Other than their gills, Axolotls also have lungs.
Their lungs are undeveloped, however, when placed in shallow water their lungs develop and their gills are absorbed which allow them to gulp in air and survive on land. But what’s strange about this is the fact that they are not actually able to move on land because their legs are not strong enough to hold their own weight.
3. They are poisonous.
On their skin, they possess poison glands which help in self-defense in the wild. In captivity, however, they are no threat unless you happen to lick it. Before it was endangered, Xochimilco natives used to feast on them. They would be served whole with cornmeal.
4. It is not actually a fish. It is an amphibian.
They are within the family of frogs, newts, toads, caecilians, blindworms, and salamanders. There are more than 4,000 different species of Amphibians. They are cold-blooded which means that they are the same temperature as the water or air that surrounds them.
5. Scientists are studying the Axolotl’s genes that are responsible for regeneration to see if they may be able to harness some of that ability in humans as well.
“I believe that we will be able to improve tissue healing for burn victims, help eliminate complications for transplants, and even help eliminate cancer. All of this would happen within the next 10 to 20 years.” Said Prof. Stephanie Roy, a scientist at the University of Montreal.
6. Wild Axolotls are not actually white.
We are always shown a bright pink/white axolotl, however, in the wild, they don’t exist. They are more black and green in color than anywhere near white. As they grow older, they become darker in color. The white ones are known as “leucistic Axolotls”, these are actually descendants of one mutant male which was brought to Paris in 1983. Since then, scientists began breeding them to be leucistic.
7. Axolotls are carnivores.
Their diet consists of pretty much anything that fits into their mouths such as worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, and some fish. Although it is known to be a top predator in its own habitat, larger fish and birds such as herons prey on it.
But above all, they make beautiful pets. (with research of course).