Axol's Blog
Why Axolotls Matter

AXOL - OCTOBER 27, 2018

Axolotls are cute, we all know that - with their quirky smiles, iconic looking external gills and funny mannerisms - it is why people all over the world love having them as pets. Due to the popularity of pet axolotls, you might not even know that the axolotl is endangered in the wild!

Axolotls have been revered by countless generations, from the ancient Aztecs to modern European scientists, Japanese animators, and even U.S. pop culture, but in the year 2006 the species was declared critically endangered due to habitat degradation and the pervasiveness of invasive fish in the axolotl’s environment. Axolotls are native to the Lake Xochimilco region of central Mexico, just outside of Mexico City.

We won’t go into the detail of what all is happening to the axolotl’s home in this post, we will save it for another post! Instead, let’s talk about why we should still care about axolotls even if they are thriving pets and lab assistants. (Oh, I should draw Axol in a lab coat soon!!)

See, the problem is that captive axolotls are unable to genetically diversify to the same extent their wild counterparts would. This creates a homogenous stock, which might be good for science research, but dangerous to the health and endurance of the species.

Interestingly enough, the majority of lab and pet axolotls today are descendants of just 34 axolotls that were taken out of Xochimilco by a French-expedition in 1863. This created an extreme “bottleneck” effect for the species. Captive populations are more vulnerable to catastrophe, such as disease. Additionally, captive axolotl species have strayed away from their wild counterparts, genetically speaking. We can love the axolotl, have some as pets, but that doesn't mean the axolotl species is safe or okay. Until we reduce the harm to the axolotl's environment and the many risks in the wild, the axolotl species is at risk.

Why does the axolotl matter so much? Because studying the axolotl may lead to medical advancements in the fight against cancer, harmful effects of aging, and even the ability to overcome the inadequacies of the human healing process. You can read all about the scientific awesomeness of axolotls in a post I intend to write soon and then will link back

Axolotls sure are cute. Here you can see Mushu, Instagram user @Colfersninja 's pet axolotl alongside their Axol plushie! Sooo adorable! #SaveAxol #AxolandFriends

In conclusion, we want to assure you axolotl-lovers that it is okay to keep your cute pet axolotls, but that we must do more for those axolotls still fighting to survive in the wild. This is why Axol & Friends has partnered with a local nonprofit organization in Central Mexico to educate and empower youth to protect wild axolotls and the habitats these special creatures inhabit.

Thank you so much for supporting our cause and being part of this world-changing mission!


If you liked this story, share it!