Axolotl or Mexican Salamander (Ambystoma Mexicanum)

These rare and unusual amphibians are neotenic, meaning they don't "grow up". 

They don't naturally change to a land-dwelling (adult) stage. They keep their larval, (juvenile) gilled form throughout their lives. The salamanders breed and reproduce in this form. Rarely, Axolotls take to the land and lose their gills. Only then are they called Mexican Salamanders. Scientists study these remarkable animals for their ability to heal and actually regenerate or grow injured or missing toes, legs and tails.

Description: 

Large, (8-12 inch) usually white (albino) or black (melanistic) salamanders with a plump body and external, feathery gills.

Habitat: 

Clean, cold, snow-fed alpine lakes lacking predatory fish.

Range: 

Restricted to certain mexican alpine lakes in the Mexico City region (especially Lake Xochimilco).

Diet: 

Water insects, insect larvae, small fish, worms, small crustaceans.

Life Span: 

6-15 years in captivity. Unknown in the wild.

Family Life: 

Solitary. Females lay up to 500 eggs attached to stones, twigs or aquatic plants. The young "mature" at 1.5 to 2 years.

Status: 

Endangered. Their limited habitat range has shrunken and is facing increasing development, and pollution pressures.