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An axolotl is a neotenic, aquatic amphibian endemic to Lake Xochimilco in the south of Mexico City. It is a salamander that can regenerate its body parts. It is also called the Mexican walking fish. It is closely related to the tiger salamander. They are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.
See the fact file below for more information on the axolotl or alternatively, you can download our 22-page Axolotl worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Etymology and Location
- The axolotl got its name from the words atl meaning water and xolotl meaning dog.
- Xolotl is a dog-headed Aztec deity who was believed to have transformed himself into a salamander to hide.
- The scientific name of an axolotl is Ambystoma mexicanum.
- Axolotls are found only in Lake Xochimilco, a UNESCO Heritage Site in the south of Mexico City.
- They used to be found in Lake Chalco in central Mexico City before the lake was drained.
- Lake Xochimilco has been transformed into a series of canals and the axolotl has since been listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.
- They are rarely seen in the wild now.
- Major threats that cause their extinction include habitat loss, invasion of larger species, and environmental pollution mainly due to heavy tourism.
- From 6,000 documented wild axolotls in a 1998 survey, it got to a point when there were none found in the wild in a 2014 survey.
- An axolotl is called a walking fish but it is an amphibian, not a fish.
- The tiger salamander is its closest relative.
- At times, the axolotl is mistaken for a waterdog, which is the tiger salamander’s larval stage.
- It spends its whole life underwater.
- An axolotl is 6 to 18 inches long.
- The average axolotl is 9 inches long.
- It is rare to see an axolotl measuring beyond 12 inches.
- The genome of an axolotl consists of 32 million DNA bases, which is 10 times the size of the human genome.
- Their average life span is 10 years.
- The colors of axolotls are controlled by four genes.
- These genes cause significant difference in their pigment patterns.
- Axolotls are commonly black or brown with green or gold spots.
- White axolotls are considered leucistic, which means they are white due to a lack of pigment.
- White axolotls are believed to have originated from a mutant axolotl that was transported to Paris in 1863.
- The reason there are many white axolotls in captivity is because pet traders have bred axolotls to turn out white with black eyes.
- Axolotls exhibit neoteny which makes them keep their young-looking characteristics although they are already mature enough to reproduce.
- Since they’re neotenic, as an adult they never outgrow their aquatic nature like other salamanders.
- Although they grow lungs, they still retain their feathery outer gills that grow from their heads.
- The thin fibers on their gills increase surface area for respiration.
- They never grow teeth so they have to suck in order to eat.
- An axolotl’s closest relative is a tiger salamander.
- Axolotls can be forced to mature when they are injected with iodine.
- They start to look like their mature salamander relative but they do not live long once they’re injected with iodine, only up to a year before they die.
- Axolotls can regenerate most of its body parts: limbs, jaws, skin, spinal cords, and even parts of their brain without leaving marks or scars of regeneration.
- Axolotls are also able to receive organ transplants thoroughly.
- Because of this unbelievable ability to regenerate and adapt, axolotls are very interesting for scientists.
- Scientists are attempting to determine the genes that make axolotls capable of regenerating.
- They are the most scientifically studied salamanders.
Diet and Other Facts
- An axolotl eats food that it can fit in its mouth, like small snails, fish, worms, crustaceans, and other tiny amphibians.
- Axolotls are not social so it’s fine to keep them apart in captivity.
- The meat of axolotls used to be eaten before it was endangered.
- Axolotls were a staple in the Aztec diet.
- Residents of Xochimilco cooked axolotl tamales and paired them with cornmeal.
- It was also sold in Mexican markets.
- Today, deep-fried axolotl is served in a restaurant in Osaka, Japan.
Caring for Axolotls
- Axolotls may be critically endangered in the wild but they can be bought as cute exotic pets from private breeders.
- Axolotls require special care if kept as pets.
- Pet axolotls must be placed in large and cool aquariums because they secrete tons of waste.
- Axolotls, especially the young ones, should be kept in different aquariums or compartments because they tend to bite their fellow axolotls.
- There are many organizations that advocate for saving the wild axolotls from becoming extinct, such as the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology’s Darwin Project, which is focused on the cleanup of Lake Xochimilco.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about axolotl across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Axolotl worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the axolotl which is a neotenic, aquatic amphibian endemic to Lake Xochimilco in the south of Mexico City. It is a salamander that can regenerate its body parts. It is also called the Mexican walking fish. It is closely related to the tiger salamander. They are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Axolotl Facts
- My Axolotl Art
- Lake of Axolotls
- What’s It Called?
- Incomplete Ideas
- Correct or Incorrect
- Color Blanks
- Salamander Family
- Saving Axolotls
- Axolotl Cuisine
- My Pet Axolotl
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Link will appear as Axolotl Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 22, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.