Tonawanda News

Features

January 23, 2014

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Amazing axolotls

Tonawanda News — Think lizards, without scales. Also think of an animal that is fully aquatic with rubbery pink, yellow or brown skin, and feathery gills and you would have an axolotl. Axolotls, which are native to central Mexico, are fascinating pets.

Here in Western New York, they are known simply as axolotl but in other parts of the world they have quite a few nicknames including Mexican walking fish, Mexican salamander and unfortunately, water monster.

When I look at them, I do not see a monster at all. They look like they are wearing a feather boa around their thick puppy-like necks. They also have tiny eyes for their head and a wide, smiling mouth — so nothing to be worried about. Over the course of my childhood I had four axolotls. Doing a quick Internet search you will find many images of these unique aquatic salamanders that will bring a smile to your face.

“They are unlike other amphibians, in that they can remain entirely aquatic for their lifespan, able to breed and function in this stage for life,” my friend, Carly Rehac, said.

Axolotls are considered to be a neotenic salamander, which means they can reproduce in their juvenile state and never grow up.

Carly went to the University at Buffalo and majored in animal behavior, like myself. She shares her home with many critter companions including an axolotl named Edd, which she adopted from me after I hatched him from an egg. Edd — who may be a girl — was hatched from a large clutch of eggs that I had a few years back and had adopted out to many of my equally unique Western New York friends.

“They are not cuddly and affectionate as cats and dogs are, but they have distinct and interesting personalities, and I have been delighted to get to know my Edd!” Rehac said. “Axolotls make excellent pets!”

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