Mexican walking fish

Ambystoma mexicanum

This critically endangered amphibian is found only in the Mexican lakes Xochimilco and Chalco. Axolotl is a typical predator active both during the day and at night, but not very mobile. It is a neotenic form, i.e. the larval form of this amphibian is able to reproduce. Like all amphibian larvae, the axolotl has external gills that are located on the head. It also has a high capacity to regenerate lost body parts; the tail, gill fragments or legs, especially at a young age, grow back completely. The species is protected by CITES.

The capital of Mexico is located in a place where once there had been a large lake, which was gradually drained during the Aztec era. They cultivated chinampas – fertile plots floating on the water. The only thing left of the old Xochimilco Lake is the channel system. The last specimens of the Mexican axolotls live in it and in the neighboring Lake Chalco. Axolotl needs deep lakes and lush vegetation to lay eggs. The population of Lake Chalco is very small, and the lake itself is an unstable environment that is likely to disappear in the near future.

The progressive pollution of Chalco and Xochimilco lakes as well as the traditional consumption of the endangered species by local communities deepen the risk of the axolotl disappearing completely from the natural environment. In 1987, Lake Xochimilco was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.