Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
• Found exclusively in the lake complex of Xochimilco (pronounced SO-chee-MILL-koh) near Mexico City, axolotls differ from most other salamanders in that they live permanently in water.
• The Mexican axolotl (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhl) salamander has the rare trait of retaining its larval features throughout its adult life. This condition, called neoteny, means it keeps its tadpole-like dorsal fin, which runs almost the length of its body, and its feathery external gills, which protrude from the back of its wide head.
• Axolotls are carnivorous…although everything they eat has to be small enough to fit in their mouth because their teeth aren’t developed for biting. They eat worms, including earthworms, blackworms, and the larvae known as bloodworms. They will also eat insects, tadpoles, or any other invertebrates that end up within their reach.
• Axolotls are fantastic at regeneration, meaning that they can regrow new body parts if the originals are damaged or destroyed completely.
• Solitary axolotls need not communicate throughout most of the year, though when mating they use visual and chemical cues. They can also detect electrical fields.