Axolotls are a strange, mysterious water dwelling creature that have become incredibly popular in recent years – namely as pets, with people able to purchase them in many pet stores around the world.
But few people will be aware that axolotls are actually endangered, with limited numbers of them still remaining in the wild.
But why exactly is this, and what (if anything) can be done to help them?
What Is An Axolotl?
Axolotls are ‘paedomorphic’ salamanders, which in simple terms means that they have a delayed sexual maturity.
While members of the amphibian family, they are strange in that they do not undergo metamorphosis until adulthood, and generally remain in the water with the use of gills.
Originally found in several lakes beneath what is now Mexico City – including Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco – axolotls have now become a firm favorite in the pet industry, where they can be purchased at most places that sell fish and amphibians.
How Endangered Are They?
According to experts, the conservation status of the axolotl has them classified as ‘critically endangered’, meaning they are close to becoming extinct.
How Many Axolotls Are Left?
While the exact number is unknown – for obvious reasons – it is thought that there are no more than 1000 axolotls left in the wild.
While there are countless more in captivity or as pets, this figure is still worrying for conservationists, who fear for the future of this creature as a naturally occurring part of nature.
Why Are They Endangered?
Of course, there are numerous factors that are responsible for their decline in the wild.
Destruction Of Habitat
One of the main reasons is that the axolotl’s natural habitat has been limited and destroyed by things like shipping, run-off from factories, and other toxic hazards that have damaged the natural underwater foliage that the axolotl needs to eat and live in.
Hunted For Food
In some parts of the world, axolotls are also hunted for food, and are served in restaurants as a delicacy – something that has led to their populations dwindling in the wild.
When combined with the natural threat of predators, this has had a devastating impact on their numbers, pushing them to near extinction.
Law Of Awareness
One of the main things that contributes to their continued population decline is that many people are unaware that they are endangered – or indeed that they actually exist in the first place.
They are not a widely known creature, and they are not one of the ‘flavor of the month’ species that has regular syndication on television advertisements and charity drives.
This means that funding and research into their continuation is limited, and thus is unsuitable in its current form to properly tackle the problems the species face.
Low Reproduction Rates
Of course, not everything is caused by humans – although we certainly don’t help matters.
The fact of the matter is that axolotls reproduce slowly and in small numbers, which means that, as they face the above environmental problems, they cannot rebuild their populations quick enough to combat the deficit.
Axolotls(see also: Types Of Axolotl) can take up to 2 years to reach sexual maturity – unusual in the animal kingdom – and the females only release a few eggs at a time – something that differs from other amphibians like frogs, who produce numerous spawn at once.
How Can We Save Axolotls?
Luckily there are numerous things that we can all do to help the axolotl – although by this point, the battle certainly will not be an easy one.
Changing our attitudes towards pollution is another way that we can help stop or limit the damage done to their habitats.
By switching to more sustainable forms of manufacturing, or by disposing of waste in a safe manner, we can ensure that they have everything they need to thrive.
We also need to make sure that their habitats are protected.
This means putting legal sanctions and protections to stop people from entering or interfering with the species – not to mention outlawing hunting.
Prime habitats and waterways should be categorized as national parks or protected land, and this way they could continue to grow and recover.
Support The Mexican Government
The Mexican government also needs the support of the public to make things like happen.
This means that corporations need to come together to provide funding, and to ensure that these areas are protected and respected by everyone.
This also means that the public need to vote for politicians who have an actual respect for nature, and who are going to make a difference.
One of the main reasons that they aren’t being helped is that a lot of people are unaware of their predicament.
Thus, the best way to change that is through education.
Axolotls already have a reputation for being cute and ‘smiley’, which should be half the battle when it comes to ensuring that people become invested in their wellbeing.
Awareness also needs to be raised by charities and conservation organizations, because without this change of awareness, how are governments and politicians going to become aware of this particular cause?
By raising awareness and campaigning for change, people can achieve anything they set their mind to, especially with a creature that has become something of a global phenomenon – not to mention a national treasure for the Mexican people and the country of Mexico.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about the axolotl, and they have become endangered in the wild.
The axolotl is certainly one of the most unique and adorable ocean creatures, and one that has become popular amongst wildlife lovers and ocean fanatics alike.
However, due to many reasons their populations continue to dwindle, which is why conservation efforts are so important if we are to keep them around for years to come!