Tag Archives: salamanders

Mr. Nature: The Axolotl

Cute little fellow, ain’t he? Or she–I can’t tell with axolotls.

Jambo, everybody, Mr. Nature here. Let me tell you two cool things about axolotls.

They can grow back body parts that get injured and lost–a foot, a leg, or a piece of the tail. Other salamanders can do that, too; I once saw a really big salamander that had five feet (two on one leg, where an injured foot healed but a new one grew anyway).

Even cooler, axolotls are actually baby salamanders (very closely related to the tiger salamander) which never metamorphose into the adult form so they can live on land. They remain in the water all their lives, never shed their gills, and–like a lot of college students–never grow up, even though they can reproduce. They do grow bigger as time goes on, but they never complete the ordinary salamander life cycle. Reminds me of that old saying, “You can’t stay young, but you can be immature forever.”

Axolotls are rare; they live in fresh water in and around Mexico City, and urbanization subjects their environment to high stress. There are probably more axolotls kept as pets, and captive-bred, than can be found in the wild today.

They deserve to survive–which, I think, will test the kindness, patience, and benevolence of the human race.


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