15 Interesting Axolotl Fun Facts You Never Knew!
Axolotls might just be the weirdest little creatures in the world. Find out fifteen fun facts about these feathery fellows!
Axolotls (pronounced axe-oh-lottles) might just be the weirdest little creatures in the world. Find out fifteen fun facts about these feathery fellows!
1. They come in different colours
Most axolotl pictures we see are pets and zoo animals, where they are usually pink with white gills. But wild axolotls are usually brown or black!
2. They come from Mexico, and from one place only
You can only find wild axolotls in Lake Xochimilco in Mexico. They used to live in another place, Lake Chalco, but that was drained to stop flooding.
3. They stay babies forever
Axotlotl look like babies even when they are fully grown. Other amphibians, like frogs, lose their gills when they grow up and move onto land, but the axolotl stays in the water and looks cute forever!
4. They were first introduced to Europe more than 150 years ago
Six axolotls were brought to Paris in 1864. The zoologist studying them was very surprised when he noticed they didn't seem to be getting any older! They've been popular worldwide ever since.
5. They can regrow bits of their body...
This is where it gets really weird. If an axolotl loses a leg, or an organ, or even a bit of its brain, it will grow back without even leaving a scar! Now wouldn't that be useful!
6. ...but only five times
Scientists think there is a limit on the number of times axolotls can repair themselves, though. After about five times it starts to leave scar tissue. Still pretty impressive though!
7. Their cool feathers serve a purpose
See those feathery things on the axolotl's head? They're not just for show - they're actually gills, which help the axolotl to breathe underwater. They do come up to the surface to breathe sometimes, though.
8. They're meat-eaters
They'll eat lots of different kinds of food, including fish, insects and worms. Don't worry though, they're not big enough to eat you - and they couldn't, even if they wanted to, because...
9. The way they eat is very interesting
Remember they stay babies forever? That means they never grow teeth, so chewing food isn't an option. Instead axolotls suck their food in, like a tiny vacuum cleaner!
10. They suck up gravel along with their food...
...but this isn't a bad thing! Axolotls use the gravel to grind up their food, which is something that birds do too. It's probably easier to have teeth!
11. They're named after a god
In Aztec mythology Xolotl is the god of fire and lightning. In one story he turned himself into an axolotl to hide from the god of wind, Ehecatl. Usually Xolotl is depicted with a dog's head with backwards feet! Because of their connection to the god Xolotl, axolotls were revered in ancient Aztec times.
12. Their name means "water dog"
Even though they don't look very dog-like to us, this is what "axolotl" literally translates as!
13. Mother axolotls can have a LOT of babies
On average a mother axolotl will lay 300 eggs at once - but it can be as many as THOUSAND! Imagine looking after a thousand babies!
14. You could keep one as a pet...
...depending on where you live. In some US states it's illegal to keep one. In the UK it's legal - but like with all pets, you should make sure you can provide the axolotl with everything it needs, which can be a lot.
15. They are an endangered species
Unfortunately wild axolotls are critically endangered because of climate change and development in the tiny area where they live. Scientists and local Mexican farmers are trying to help them, though, by building shelters and pumping clean water into the lake.