The axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum, is a neotenic salamander, closely related to the Tiger Salamander. Larvae of this species fail to undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled. It is also called ajolote.
Higher classification Edit
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The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesEdit
Axolotls of various colours occur in captivity, including grey, shades of brown, leucistic (white with black eyes), golden albino, white albino, as well as other varieties, such as the melanoid (a near-black animal). The normally coloured axolotl, the "wild type", can be near-black like the one in the group photo to the left, chocolate brown like the one in the site's logo, or even creamy in colour, and anywhere in between. There are even "piebald" axolotls in various colours, and a variety that is piebald in more than one colour, known as the "harlequin".
Prior to the growth of Mexico city in the basin of Mexico, the Axolotl was native to both Lake Xochimilco, and Lake Chalco. Of these two high altitude freshwater lakes, only the remnants of Xochimilco as canals can be seen today. Unfortunately many information sources mention these lakes as if they still exist. If only this were still the case: sadly it is rarely caught in the wild but at least the Axolotl is now on the CITES endangered species list. There have been efforts to breed and release the animal, in order to re-establish its numbers. However the location of the remaining waterways where the animal may live (located in the Mexico City metropolitan area) are likely to be very threatened by the city's continuing expansion and the days of the species surviving in the wild are surely quite limited. Fortunately, due to the importance of the Axolotl in scientific research, it is unheard of for them to be taken from the wild for that purpose because of the huge numbers bred in captivity each year. There are related Mexican Ambystoma species that also remain gilled as adults. These species are located in water bodies further from Mexico city and may have a slightly brighter future in the wild than the Axolotl.