IUCN status
Critically Endangered
Scientific name
Ambystoma mexicanum
High altitude lakes

Axolotl facts

  • Axolotls retain larval features into adulthood.
  • Axolotls have large external gills for oxygen exchange. They have a large tail which helps them swim. 
  • Axolotls have an incredible ability to regenerate digits and limbs and even parts of their brain. This amazing ability has made them a focal species for human medicine and research.
  • Almost extinct in the wild, oddly they are one of the most commonly bred amphibians in captivity.
  • The name axolotl is thought to have originated from the Aztecs, derived from two words: atl, meaning "water", and xolotl meaning “monster”.
  • They live permanently in water, in the wetlands and canals associated with Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco, adjacent to Mexico City.
  • Once eaten as a delicacy in Mexico City, they are now a protected species in Mexico and Critically Endangered in the wild.

What do axolotls eat? 

Invertebrates and small fish.

Axolotl habitat

High altitude lakes and canals

Where do axolotls live?

Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco, central Mexico.

Axolotl adult black

Axolotl threats

Land drainage and population growth of Mexico City. Poor water quality as a result of sewage disposal in the Xochimilco and Chalco lake complex. Invasive species.

Axolotls at the Zoo

We don't have axolotls at London Zoo currently, but we do have the Lake Patzcuaro salamander which is larger and very similar. 

Axolotl conservation 

Our herpetology team was involved in the development of a conservation action plan for axolotls, and we also supported three EDGE working on three other closely related salamanders in Mexico (Taylor’s salamander, granular salamander and Lake Lerma salamander). Our herpetology team and vets have also pioneered new treatments for diseases of axolotls.

Our EDGE conservation work

Our amphibians and reptiles

  • Female Lake Oku frog
    Xenopus longipes

    Lake Oku clawed frog

    Lake Oku frogs are only found in one tiny lake in Cameroon, and we were the first to ever successfully breed this critically endangered species.

  • Chinese giant salamander being held during a health check at London Zoo
    The world's largest amphibian

    Chinese giant salamander

    Chinese giant salamanders are the world's biggest amphibian, at full size they are around the size of a fully grown man at 1.8m in length.  

  • Pyxicephalus adspersus
    Pyxicephalus adspersus

    African bullfrog

    African bullfrogs have a monstrous appetite, and will eat anything that moves, from large birds, to snakes and even other bullfrogs!

  • King cobra
    Ophiophagus hannah

    King cobra

    These massive snakes grow 18 feet long and primarily eat other snakes.

  • Blue tree monitor close up
    Varanus macraei

    Blue tree monitor

    Blue tree monitors are known for their amazing puzzle solving intelligence, and are isolated to a small island in Indonesia, which is around the same size as the Isle of Wight. 

  • David Attenborough at Komodo Dragon house at London Zoo
    Varanus komodoensis

    Komodo dragon

    The largest and heaviest reptile in the world, which can eat up to 80% of its body weight in just one feeding.

  • Philippine Crocodile at London Zoo
    Crocodylus mindorensis

    Philippine crocodile

    There are one only around 120 left in the wild, but we are working to recover Philippine crocodiles at the Zoo and in the field.