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Pets Like Me: Toothless

A Mexican ‘walking fish’ looks like a toy–and it’s not a fish!

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Usually, dogs aren’t much interested in water monsters—probably because they don’t make noise or play with dogs. But then I met an axolotl. I couldn’t help but lean closer and gaze with open eyes. With its lizard-like limbs, a fancy headdress and a wry little grin, it’s easy to fall in love with this unusual creature.

 

Davi: Tell me something about yourself that most people don’t know.

Toothless: I am a salamander larva, which means I’m an amphibian that lives underwater my whole life! I even have pseudo-lungs to gulp the air, in case my environment is lacking oxygen. I also have no teeth, so the way I eat is like a vacuum. The texture inside of my mouth is rough, like sandpaper, to hold on to my food.

 

What foods do you crave most often?

Plump, juicy earthworms! And for a snack, I sometimes get brine shrimp and bloodworms. They’re not as nutritious but sure do taste good!

 

Do Axolotls have bad eyesight?

I can distinguish shadows and, of course, see my human, especially when it’s feeding time, but I rely mainly on my sense of smell, not sight, to hunt my prey and communicate with others.

 

Tell me about those frilly things on the side of your head.

Those are my gills! If my water moves too much, my gills start to curl. That’s how my human knows to refill my tank.

 

So you have any special talents?

I can beat anyone in a staring contest—because I have no eyelids. That’s about it; I’m quite sedentary and hide most of the day.

 

What is your best feature?

My adorable perma-smile. Must be why my human loves to stare at me so much.

 

What fun activities can you do?

I can swim all day! I’m fully aquatic so I can’t leave my home, unless my human gets me a bigger one!

 

Do axolotls require much care?

The only thing we’re picky about is our water temperature and water quality. We prefer very cold water, so our tanks must be kept at 70°F or colder. My favorite temperature is 60°F. If I eat too much and my tummy hurts, my human puts me in the fridge in a bowl for a few hours—aah, the cold water makes my tummy feel so much better.

 

What happens if you lose a limb?

I haven’t lost one yet, but if it were to happen, I can regrow whatever is lost without any problems. I’ve heard stories of my friends regenerating portions of their brains. It didn’t make them any smarter, though!

 

What other names do you go by?

Where I originate, I’m known as the Mexican walking fish or just the walking fish. My human calls me Toothless because I lack teeth.

 

In three words, sum up your life.

Happy, hungry, aloof.

 

As if I needed another reason to like the axolotl, I learned the name literally means “water dog,” for the dog-headed deity in Aztec mythology. Even though they’re critically endangered, axolotls have a growing fan base in the exotic pet community (there are even some Pokemon inspired by these little dudes) and the cutish amphibian can be a great companion, as long as you keep it comfortable and well-fed—just like dogs or cats, or any pet you love!

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