Big Ben the Axolotl

We get a lot of requests to feature friends pets on Zooillogix. Some people just don't seem to get the fact that their golden retriever does not belong on a site devoted to bizarre zoology (you know who you are Mike Tippet of 2 Third St., Farfield, CT). However, Jennifer's axolotl, Big Ben, is a welcome guest.

Axolotl's are Mexican neotenic mole salamanders, which fail to go through metamorphosis as larvae and therefore retain their gills and aquatic nature. The axolotl was native to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in central Mexico, the latter of which no longer exists. However, lucky (?) for the axolotl, the critters are prized for their regenerative abilities and are frequently used for lab research. May we all be so lucky...

Big Ben at play (rest? hungry? sad?). His beedy eyes are quite emotive I think.

Big Ben in awful mood

Big Ben in good mood

Big Ben in reflective mood

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Great picture! I first heard about these guys when I read Gould's 'Ontogeny and Phylogeny' in high school, and was absolutely fascinated by them. I didn't know that they were kept as pets!

You do notice you've got four captions and only three pics, right? Not that that makes them any the less apropriate (I'd stick captions 2 and 3 to the pic they bracket -- the closeup obviously gives him his best chance at some serious emoting).

(Actually the more I look at that shot the creepier it gets. What's he smiling about?)

You should inject him with iodine. It induces metamorphosis, though they live for a considerably shorter period. Either that or cut off a leg, it'll regrow, and sometimes another superfluous leg will grow.

I want one of these!

why is his head bigger than his body on some pics and smaller on others =/

By I.P. Freely (not verified) on 28 Mar 2009 #permalink

big ben is absolutely adorable!! but what happened in the second picture? he seems a lot smaller...

injecting your axolotl with iodine is a sure way to kill it. most metamorphosed axolotls die after that in 1-2 years.

By epho-ka x (not verified) on 08 Jun 2009 #permalink

i have two black axolotls they are soooo cute but mynew r sooo wierd they like to be handled

By sophie matthews (not verified) on 10 Aug 2010 #permalink