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‘Adopt’ an Axolotl: Ecologists Are Calling for Donations to Protect the Salamander

Researchers in Mexico are calling on the public to “adopt an axolotl.” The small amphibian has seen a steep decline in its natural population while the animal has become popular in pet stores. 

It’s important to note that adoption doesn’t mean you’ll receive a pet axolotl, but the money goes to protecting what’s left of the animal’s wild population. According to media sources, the unique salamander has seen a 99.5% decrease in its population over just two decades.

The animal is native to Mexico, but the combination of the internet and Minecraft, a video game, has made the small creature very popular. Unlike other salamanders, axolotls retain their gills and live their whole lives underwater.

Researchers with Mexico’s National Autonomous University say all 18 species of the animal found in Mexico are critically endangered. Water pollution, a deadly fungus and non-native species are all playing a role in the axolotl’s decline. The animal’s popularity has also led to a black market for selling the species. 

The Adopt an Axolotl Program

This is the second year the organization is hosting the fundraiser, nicknamed “Adoptaxolotl.” Adopters will receive a virtual confirmation with live updates on your “adopted” wild axolotl. Adoption starts at $30 a month. 

adopt an axolotl
(Source: Mattias Banguese)

During last year’s fundraiser, researchers raised $26,300 to continue their work from the adopt an axolotl program. Ecologists say they need more to continue studying the animal and finding new ways to protect the species.

You can only find axolotls in certain freshwater areas of Mexico. The animal doesn’t live anywhere natively in the U.S. While they’ve grown increasingly popular to own, having the salamander is illegal in certain states. These states include California, Maine, New Jersey and Washington, DC. The ban is over concerns about axolotls being released into the wild and causing issues to local environments.

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