'HAVE YOU EVER SEEN' an Axolotl? The Axolotl, also known as a Mexican Salamander (Ambystoma mexicanum), a Mexican Water Dragon or Mexican Walking Fish, is a neotenic salamander, closely related to the Tiger Salamander. Although the Axolotl is colloquially known as a "walking fish", it is not a fish, but an amphibian. It is only native to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in central Mexico. Lake Chalco no longer exists, as it was artificially drained to avoid periodic flooding and Lake Xochimilco remains a remnant of its former self, existing mainly as canals. Axolotls exhibit neoteny, meaning that they reach sexual maturity without undergoing metamorphosis. Neoteny has been observed in all salamander families in which it seems to be a survival mechanism, in aquatic environments only of mountain and hill, with little food and in particular, with little iodine. In this way, Salamanders can reproduce and survive in the form of a smaller larval stage, which is aquatic and requires a lower quality and quantity of food compared to the big adult, which is terrestrial. The Axolotl is carnivorous, consuming small prey such as worms, insects and small fish in the wild. They locate food by smell and will "snap" at any potential meal, sucking the food into their stomachs with vacuum force.
Their four mutant colours are leucistic (pale pink with black eyes), albino (golden with gold eyes), axanthic (grey with black eyes) and melanoid (all black with no gold speckling or olive tone). In addition, Axolotls come in many different colour variations, dependent upon pigment cells called chromatophores. Axolotl breeders often produce an odd offspring whose phenotype defies what the breeder knows to be its genotype. Piebald axolotls (not just on the top of the body like a leucistic), yellow leucistics with black spots and the harlequin (orange and black patches on a white axolotl) are just a few examples of colours that can be seen. There are also many different variations of albino Axolotls (lacking melanophores).