Meet Mudkip and Wooper, the two newest members of the SFU Biology Department. The axolotls, also known as Mexican salamander, are actually amphibians and not walking fish, although they do spend their entire lives in water. The axolotl’s name is derived from the Latin words “atl” (water) and “xolotl” (monster). They retain their larval features as adults and never go through metamorphosis.
The axolotls are currently the eighth most endangered species in the world with less than 100 individuals currently left in the wild. Their natural habitat is in an area of less than 10 square kilometers in the region of Xochimilco, Mexico. The water quality in the canals they live in has been deteriorating from increased pollution levels. The introduction of larger fish such as carp and tilapia to control aquatic weeds and insects has also affected their population level.
The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium had a pair of Axolotls that recently had babies, and two of the juveniles were donated to the Saint Francis University Biology department. Students in the Aquarium and Zoo Science program will set up their tank, write a care manual and gain experience caring for these unique creatures.