Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor

Peace Crane by Hilary Taylor
Picture by Justin Wyatt
To read Hilary's story buy this special book...

This magical story has a touch of the supernatural. When an injured crane is found and nursed, something happens, something magical and inspiring...

Gentle Footprints launched- AS SEEN ON TV

Gentle Footprints was officially launched Fri June 4th at the Hay Festival with guest speaker Virginia McKenna and some of the authors

Buy from Bridge House Publishing by clicking on the link BUY:


Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Virginia McKenna at Hay Launch

Animal Anthology To Raise Funds for Born Free

Bridge House Publishing announce new book coming Spring 2010. For more about Bridge House please see their website.
This book is the annual charity book for Born Free...if you want to get involved with promoting and selling this book- email me!

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Visit the Born Free Website to find out more about their valuable work...

Monday, 15 November 2010

Axolotl: the salamander that will never grow up

It’s not particularly cute or flurry, but an axolotl will never grow up. Although that won’t stop the axolotl breeding. Axolotls are neotenic due to a lack of thyroid stimulating hormone and generally fail to undergo metamorphosis so spend most of their lives in a larval state. Axolotls have external gills, a caudal fin extending from their head to the vent, have wide heads with lidless eyes and underdeveloped limbs with long, thin digits. Features that are typical of the salamander family of which they belong. They feed by suction as they have barely visible vestigial teeth and are carnivorous, favouring worms, insects and small fish. They usually breathe through their gills but can also gulp air from the water’s surface. Axolotls live and breed underwater.

Axolotls have four different colourings, varying shades of brown with spots (wildtype), black (melanoid), pink with black eyes (leucistic) or golden or pink with pink eyes (albino). On average they grow to around 20cm long and can range in length from 15 to 45cm. Axolotls are native to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico. Lake Chalco was drained to avoid flooding and Lake Xochimilco is now not so much a lake as a series of canals, which supplies the 18 million people in Mexico City. The diminishment of their natural habit, reductions in water quality as well as being food (Axolotls were a staple food in the Aztec diet and axolotl eggs are eaten by carp and tilapia fish), has meant they are now critically endangered. Recent surveys have suggested that between 700 to 1200 axolotls survive in six locations within the Xochimilco area. Reintroduction of axolotls is not thought to be a good idea because of the risks of chyrdiomicosis, a disease caused by the chytrid fungus which is often fatal for axolotls. However, there are programmes to create wild refuges for axolotls in their native Mexico.

Although there are no stories featuring axolotls in “Gentle Footprints”, Julio Cortazar (1914 – 1984) published an axolotl-themed short story in in 1956 which was included in his “Final Deljuego” (End of the Game and other stories). In the story, a man frequently visits a zoo and finding his favourite animals, the lions and panthers, asleep (typical behaviour for big cats), he decides to explore the aquarium and finds himself entranced by the axolotls. He makes many return visits, comparing them to figurines of milky glass with discs of gold for eyes. The narrator goes from being transfixed to being transformed, looking at himself from inside the aquarium.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of mine worked in a university zoology department about twenty five years ago. They had a tank with three axolotls in it in one of the office areas. I think they'd already been there fore several years and there was a rumour that they were immortal. I've no idea where they came from or why they were there, but they were fascinating...