All About the Axolotl

The Axolotl is otherwise known as the Mexican Walking Fish. Strangely enough, this species isn’t a fish at all, but an amphibian. It’s a salamander that belongs to the Caudata/Urodela order.

What You Should Know

The Axolotl was found in Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico. Lake Chalco has been drained to prevent flooding, so Lake Xochimilco is its remaining habitat. The growth of Mexico City has also put the population under pressure.

The Axolotl is a member of the tiger salamander family. They prefer a high altitude body of water. This species is also carnivorous. It regularly eats insects, worms and small fish. When they smell the food, they snap at the meal and suck it into their stomachs with violent, vacuum force.

What Sound Do They Make?

The Axolotl has been known to make a loud squeak. The other sound that is heard is when the oxygen travels through their skin, gills, and lungs.

Group Characteristics

The Male Axolotl swims and deposits up to 25 spermatophores into the habitat. He hopes that a female will come and pick them up. A female then picks it up with her cloaca and fertilizes them.

After that, the female lays the eggs. This can be anywhere from 100 to 1,000 eggs. Some females will lay eggs several times a year.

How Many are There?

On the IUCN list, the Axolotl is listed as critically endangered. While it can survive up to 15 years, its suffering from many problems beyond its control. The first is the larger fish being added into its habitat. These fish are eating more of the Axolotls, thereby reducing the population.

As Mexico City continues to populate, the demands of the nearby waters strain the habitat. The waters have either been drained to avoid flooding or are contaminated. The Axolotl is also a roasted delicacy in Mexico. Furthermore, they’ve become popular among people with an aquarium, which also lowers the population in the wild.

Pop Culture

Mad Magazine adopted the name Axolotl as a nonsense word for many of its gags. This become popular with readers.

The ability to regrow its limbs also made the Axolotl the inspiration as a fictional Dune universe tank by Frank Herbert.

During the Netflix series, Bojack Horseman, there’s an anthropomorphic Axolotl-like character with the name Yolanda Buenaventura. This character is voiced by Natalie Morales.

Interesting Facts

The Axolotl is different from salamanders, in numerous ways. First, the Axolotl is only found in the lakes around Mexico City. They also permanently live in water, where salamanders survive outside of water. Because it is closely related to the tiger salamander, the Axolotl is very large. It reaches up to a foot long. It also has a black or mottled brown color, but it’s not uncommon to see albino species.

Phonetically, it’s pronounced “Ax-oh-lot-ul.” The “a” means “water” while “xolotl” means “dog.” This is all named after the Xolotl, which is a canine Aztec deity.

While the Axolotl was a popular delicacy, it isn’t found much in Mexico anymore because of the endangered listing. Still, the Japanese continue to dine on the animal, deep-fried. They claim it tastes like white fish meat, except it has a crunch.

The Axolotl is estimated at 1,000 times more resistant to cancer than other mammals. This causes scientists to research it and attempt to replicate the natural resistance in hopes of eliminating these diseases for humans.