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Axolotl, mutant color, prob. juvenile

This salamander is the inspiration for the Wooper Pokemon.  And that’s all I know about Pokemon.

But If I had a spirit animal, this friendly-alien-looking creature might be it, just for its looks.  It’s the Axolotl, or Mexican Salamander, native to the lake complex formerly near Mexico City.  One lake was drained to prevent flooding.  Of the other, all that remains is a canal system which is now suffering ecological collapse.

These salamanders, unique to the area, were once very common.  They were caught for food, and for use in various remedies, as they’re reputed to have medicinal properties.  The Axolotls seen here have a color mutation.  Usually, they’re brown or black.  They’re also generally not nearly so cute as in the picture above.  The antennae-looking things are external gill stalks.

Axolotls are studied for their ability to regenerate limbs (common among salamanders).  There’s also a fair population of captive ‘pet’ Axolotls, most of which have the color mutations.  They’re an unusual amphibian.  They exhibit neoteny; this is sexual maturity without metamorphosis.  As a result they retain adolescent features and remain water-dwellers.

Axolotls are virtually extinct in the wild, though efforts are being made to change that.  A 2013 search over several months found none in their native habitat.

(Info from Natl. Geographic, Wikipedia, & a documentary on YouTube)

NatGeo  http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/amphibians/axolotl/

Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axolotl

“Weird Creatures with Nick Baker: Axolotl”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wcdy9FehaI