The Axolotl is not a fish but an amphibian also called a salamander. A creepy looking creature but adorable.
Because the Axolotl is a salamander, it is part of one of the three branches of class Amphibian, which also includes the frogs, toads and the eel.
Axolotls of various colors occur in captivity, including grey, shades of brown, golden albino, white albino, as well as other varieties. The normally colored axolotl can be near-black, chocolate brown or even creamy in color, and anywhere in between.
The name “Axolotl” comes from the Aztec language, “Nahuatl”. One of the most popular translations of the name connects the Axolotl to the god of deformations and death. A sexually mature adult axolotl, at age 18–24 months, ranges in length from 6 to 18 in. A size closer to 9 inches is most common and greater than 12 inches is rare.
Despite its endangered status, the use of the Axolotl as a laboratory animal should ensure the species’ survival, if only in captivity. It has long been known that the Axolotl is a worthy study due to its amazing healing and regeneration abilities. Normal wound healing in animals occurs through the growth of scar tissue. Normal wound healing also does not allow for most animals to re-grow a lost limb. However the axolotl is fully capable of complete limb re-growth. The animal has the added scientific attraction of having especially large embryos, making it easier to deal with under laboratory conditions. Its embryo is also very robust, and can be spliced and combined with different parts of other axolotl embryos with a high degree of success.
The Axolotl is a fascinating creature for a number of reasons. Including its grotesque appearance, its ability to regenerate, and primarily the fact that it exhibits the phenomenon known as neoteny. Ordinarily, amphibians undergo metamorphosis from egg to larva (the tadpole of a frog is a larva), and finally to adult form. The Axolotl, along with a number of other amphibians, remains in its larval form throughout its life. This means that it retains its gills and fins, and it does not develop the protruding eyes, eyelids and characteristics of other adult salamanders. It grows much larger than a normal larval salamander, and it reaches sexual maturity in this larval stage.
It should also be noted that Axolotls may suffer from impaction if not kept on the correct substrate with fine sand being the preferred option. Impaction can be caused by the digestion of gravel and could be severe enough to cause death, therefore they must never be kept on gravel or stones that are smaller than the axolotls’ head. In captivity, axolotls eat a variety of readily available foods, including trout and salmon pellets, frozen or live worms.