Have you ever heard of a fish that could walk? If not, look no further than the Axolotl. Although, scientifically the Axolotl is classified as an amphibian, one of the more popular nicknames for this cute creature is “the walking fish.” This salamander, with its unique appearance and lesser known reputation, is a welcome surprise to anyone learning about the animal kingdom.
The Copper Axolotl is an albino subtype of the regular Axolotl. Its copper coloring gives it its name. Another notable feature of the Copper Axolotl is their reddish eyes. This type of Axolotl can be broken further down into smaller subcategories: light copper and copper. You guessed it; this categorization is based on their shade of coloring.
Since this smiley creature is so little-known by many in the pet world, we figured we would bring you fifteen cool facts about this little guy. What better way to learn about a new animal than through its quirks and eccentricities? If you are considering buying a Copper Axolotl as a pet or are just curious about what exactly this animal is, read on to learn more.
Fact 1: The Copper Axolotl Can Live Up to Fifteen Years in the Wild
The Copper Axolotl exhibits a shorter-than-average lifespan than your average salamander. Their lifespan as a species is at risk of being cut short, as well. Currently, the Axolotl as a species is listed as critically endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This critical endangerment comes from Mexico City’s need for water. Since Mexico City is located close to the Axolotl’s native area, the draining and contaminating of the Axolotl’s water leaves many of these creatures homeless. Without some serious conservation effort, these cute salamanders might not have any lifespan to boast of soon.
Fact 2: The Copper Axolotl is Just Slightly Bigger Than a Teacup
If you were wondering just how big these “walking fish” are, look no further than that teacup in your cupboard.
An average sized Copper Axolotl could probably curl up comfortably inside of it. If you’re a fan of details, the exact measurements for the average Copper Axolotl are these: eight to twelve inches in length and 2.11 to 8 ounces in weight. This puts them in the mid-range of salamander size, right between the Minute Salamander and the Chinese Giant Salamander.
Fact 3: The Copper Axolotl is a Baby Its Whole Life
Alright, scientifically speaking, this might not be the complete and utter truth, but Copper Axolotls do possess the rare condition of neoteny. This means that Copper Axolotls keep many of its infant, larval features throughout its whole life. These traits include the dorsal fin that runs down its whole back, reminiscent of its tadpole fin, and the external gills, resembling feathers, that jut out from the back of its head. An eternal baby? No wonder Copper Axolotls are so cute.
Fact 4: Copper Axolotls Live Their Whole Lives in Water
Unlike other salamanders and many other amphibians which enjoy a split life between the water and land, the Copper Axolotl spends its whole existence wading through the waters. There have been exceptional cases where a fully matured Copper Axolotl will emerge from the water like the primordial sludge that gave rise to life and tough out the dry land environment, but these are the exceptions that prove the rule.
A vast majority of Copper Axolotls are more than content to live, breathe, eat, and sleep in the water.
Fact 5: Copper Axolotls are Mexican Immigrants
The Copper Axolotl is native to numerous freshwater lakes in Mexico, most notably, the Xochimilco Freshwater Lake Complex. If you ever own a Copper Axolotl as a pet or have seen one in the U.S., remember that these cute creatures, or their ancestors, have made the journey across the U.S. border at one point.
Fact 6: The Aztec People Called the Copper Axolotl the “Water Monster”
Reaching back to its ancient Mexican heritage, the Axolotl derives its name from the traditional Aztec word, “nahuatl.” This word loosely translates to “water monster” or “water dog.” According to Aztec mythology, the Axolotl came to be when an Aztec god changed form and disguised themselves as a salamander to avoid execution. Imagine something so cute and harmless being seen as a monster.
Fact 7: The Copper Axolotl is a Carnivore
When I say harmless, perhaps I should clarify: harmless to humans. To its dinner, the Copper Axolotl is anything but harmless. The Copper Axolotl’s diet consists mainly of small water-dwelling creatures. These usually include mollusks, worms, the larvae of insects, crustaceans, and some small fish.
When they feast, the Axolotl does not chew its prey. They, instead, feed using suction. Sometimes, since they are bottom feeders, some gravel is sucked in with the food. The Axolotl puts this “ranger spice” to good use, using it to grind up some of its food in its stomach and also as an aid to adjust and maintain buoyancy.
Fact 8: The Copper Axolotl is a Real-life Wovlerine
Scientists have been amazed at the regenerative abilities of Axolotls in general. Copper Axolotls have been known to regrow their tails, entire limbs, their spinal cord, and even their brain after these body parts have been severed.
Now, I say Wolverine and not Deadpool because Copper Axolotls also have a remarkable resistance to cancer. They, actually, are thought to be as much as 1,000-times as resistant to cancer as mammals. Scholars from around the world have studied the genetic base of this ability in hopes of finding a way to apply this trait to humans. Due to this amazing ability, the Axolotl has become one of the most studied salamanders in the world.
Fact 9: Those Fancy Feathers Around the Copper Axolotls Head are Their Lifeline
Far from being just a fancy display of evolutionary grandeur, those feather-like protrusions on the Copper Axolotl’s head are its gills. Without these structures, a Copper Axolotl would be like a human with no lungs.
Fact 10: Copper Axolotls Make Great Pets for Beginner Owners
Although Copper Axolotls cannot be handled as they would not be able to breathe out of water, they prove to be great pets for inexperienced amphibian owners. Their straightforward diet and singular need of a large enough tank to swim around in makes them very easy to care for. Their unique appearance and aquatic habits make them an interesting pet to watch.
Fact 11: Copper Axolotls Have No Bones
Instead of having bones, the Copper Axolotl instead has cartilage making up most of its body. This interesting fact may be a reason why they are able to regenerate body parts so easily. This also means, however, that their bodies can be fragile. If owned as a pet, they should be handled only when absolutely necessary and, even then, with special equipment to ensure the prevention of injury.
Fact 12: Copper Axolotls are Best Kept as Solitary Pets
Copper Axolotls tend to not be social creatures. If they inhabit the same tank as other species, such as fish, they might end up eating them for dinner. If you give your pet Copper Axolotl an Axolotl mate, you might be alarmed at the cannibalistic outcome. Especially as adolescents, Axolotls exhibit a habit of eating each other. This tendency can go away as they age into adulthood, but the possibility of cannibalism is still there. Your pet Copper Axolotl is best left to live alone.
Fact 13: Copper Axolotls are Susceptible to Infections
Despite their amazing regenerative abilities, Copper Axolotls can become ill. If their tank becomes unsanitary, bacterial or viral infections can form, possibly having fatal consequences.
Pet Copper Axolotls have also been known to ingest small bits of gravel which can cause intestinal and digestive problems. If you line the bottom of your Copper Axolotl’s tank with gravel, make sure it is not small enough for them to ingest.
Fact 14: Copper Axolotls Tend to Be More Expensive
When buying your pet Axolotl, you will probably find that they cost around $100 USD upon initial purchase. However, since Copper Axolotls are rarer, their price will be higher than the rest. If you are ready to pay more, the Copper Axolotl will make your money worth it. Their vibrant coloring mixed with their already distinct characteristics and looks will make you the envy of all your pet owning friends.
Fact 15: Copper Axolotls are Avid Dancers
I bet you would be too if your mating process depended on your dancing skills. To further their gene pool, male and female Axolotls engage in a mating dance. This isn’t just to attract a partner for the final act; the dance is the final act.
While bumping and shaking around each other, usually in a circular motion, the male Axolotl will deposit its sperm in a cone shape on the floor of the lake or pond. The female will then pick up the male’s “gift” and, voila, the fertilization process has begun.