Animals / Amphibians

The Axolotl

Синонимы и названия на других языках

The Mexican salamander, the Mexican walking fish

Der Axolotl (German)

L'Axolotl (French)

El ajolote (Spanish)

 

Классификация

Order: caudata

Family: ambystomatidae

Genus: ambystoma

Species: ambystoma mexicanum 

Ареал

The axolotl is endemic to high altitude lakes in central Mexico: Xochimilco and Chalco. Lake Chalco has been recently artificially drained, so now axolotl can be found only in Xochimilco. It is considered to be a threatened species. 

Внешний вид

An adult axolotl ranges in length from 15 to 45 cm, though the extremes are quite rare.

Their heads are wide, the eyes have no eyelids.  An adult specimen has three pairs of well-developed external gills and a caudal fin that stretches along the back.  Also axolotls have special sense organs that are typical not only for amphibian’s larvae, but also for the fish: neuromasts. They enable the axolotl to perceive even the slightest vibrations of the environment and can find food in very muddy water. Axolotls are blind, but with the help of neuromasts they never stay hungry.

The most common coloration is elephant grey with dark speckles that are most visible on the fin. The belly is light grey. Albinos also occur often, they normally have red gills. Black and brown specimens are also quite common.

Характер

It is preferable to keep axolotls separately. They tend to eat smaller fish, and bigger fish, in its turn, would ripe the external gills of axolotls.  They have gentle and peaceful disposition and easily get tame. 

Содержание и уход

One adult axolotl needs at least a 50 liter tank. The ideal temperature is 16-18 degrees. Axolotls cannot live in warm water. Warmer or colder temperature causes serious stress and results in death. Chlorine is harmful for axolotls, so you will need to dechlorinate water. You will also need a filter but make sure it doesn’t create a strong flow: it will stress your amphibian greatly.

Axolotls don’t need extra lighting. The ideal substrate is special sand for aquariums.

You should change the water regularly and test the main water parameters.

Кормление

Axolotls are carnivores: they eat insects, worms and small fish. In captivity axolotls can eat earthworms, frozen bloodworm cubes, crickets, cockroaches, frozen cooked shrimp from supermarkets, lean beef and chicken, trout and salmon pellets. You should take away the uneaten food right away. 

Особенности

Like newts, axolotls have an ability to regenerate lost limbs. They are quite hardy and easy to care for. They should not be handled unless it is absolutely necessary – their skin is very delicate. They are not social animals and don’t need company.

Болезни

The most common diseases among axolotls are bacterial infections. The first sign you’re your pet is ill is the lack of appetite. Gradually red spots appear on the axolotl’s legs and other body parts.

Also axolotls are prone to salmonellosis which can lead to the animal’s death if left untreated at an early stage. If your pet becomes sluggish and hardly eats, it can be salmonellosis.  At an early stage it can be treated by adding special aquarium salt to the water. But don’t overdo it: too much salt can injure the gills of your amphibian.

Average life span is 10 years, although there have been reported specimens that lived up to 20 years. 

Разведение

Axolotls can reach sexual maturity anywhere between 5 months and several years, depending on frequency and quality of food, and the water temperature and conditions in which the animals are kept. Most sources state that the breeding season for axolotls is from December to June. However, they can be bred at any time of the year, although most success is reported in the early part of the year. By keeping axolotls in a room that receives at least partial seasonal change in temperature and light period, breeding will occur naturally, usually at least once before the peak of winter and once in the spring, if the animals are adequately fed.

The breeding setup should be furnished with many plants for the female axolotl to affix her eggs. Pieces of stone should be placed on the bottom of the tank for the male to deposit its spermatophores.

Spawning is initiated by the male, who swims around, raising its tail and making vigorous writhing motions. The male deposits between 5 and 25 spermatophores around the tank and attempts to lead the female over them. She picks up the sperm cap in her cloaca - fertilisation takes place internally. Between a few hours and two days later, she commences spawning, laying each egg individually. There may be between 100 and over a 1000 eggs laid in one spawning, depending on the size of the female.

Assuming the eggs are fertile, the majority of the eggs should hatch if kept in well-aerated water. An air pump and air stone at one end of the tank will be helpful, just be sure it doesn't cause vigorous water flow. At 20 °C (68 °F) the eggs should hatch after about 17 days. 

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