Axolotls

Range/Habitat: Axolotls live their whole lives under the water on the bottom of fresh waterways and are native to Xochimilco and Chalco (freshwater lakes) just south of Mexico City. However, Chalco no longer exists. The lakes were purposefully targeted to be drained in the 1860s to prevent flooding to the surrounding areas and to allow for more land for human expansion. Today Xochimilco is a just network of canals and lagoons.


Diet: Axolotls are Carnivorous and will snap at almost any object that moves in front of their mouth. The quick opening of their wide jaw forces water, and any object in it, into the mouth of the hungry critter. They favor worms, insects, and small fish. In the Nature center, they eat a variety of worm species.


Expected Lifespan: Axolotls can live about 15 years when given the proper nutrition and housing requirements.


Fun Facts:

  • Axolotls are also known as “Mexican Walking Fish”.
  • They are currently listed by CITES as an endangered species and by IUCN as critically endangered in the wild.
  • In captivity, their populations are booming.
  • Members of the Aztec community would consume axolotls as food.
  • Axolotls in captive studies are known to regrow entire limbs and parts of internal organs like their brain!
  • The Axolotls in the Nature Center are adult females named Rex and Glow. Both are descendants of a lab population.
  • Glow actually glows green when a blacklight is aimed at her skin because she has a GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) injected into her DNA. The GFP comes from jellyfish DNA. The original purpose for adding this to axolotls was for cancer and regeneration research, and the GFP acts as a recessive gene in axolotls and is passed down to younger generations.
  • Both of our axolotls are leucistic, which means that they lack most skin pigmentation and have black eyes, this is similar to being albino.