Axolotls are undoubtedly one of the most unique exotic pets in the world, and not just for their amusing and adorable appearances. A little-known fact about these salamanders is that they possess the ability to regenerate certain body parts – something that humans and most other animals can’t do!
While other amphibians such as newts also have the ability to regenerate limbs, the axolotl is regarded as the creature with the most amazing regenerative capabilities. As such, it’s also the most well-researched, allowing for a plethora of information to be uncovered about the iconic salamander.
If you have an axolotl who has recently lost a limb or you’re merely curious about the unique abilities of the species, you’re probably wondering “What body parts can axolotls regenerate?”. Can they regrow limbs in the same way that they can regrow gills? And what about internal organs?
Here is everything you need to know about what body parts axolotls can regenerate and how they have the ability to regenerate these parts!
Table of Contents
- What Body Parts Can Axolotls Regenerate?
- How Many Times Can An Axolotl Regenerate Its Limbs?
- How Do Axolotls Regenerate Body Parts?
- Can Axolotl Gills Grow Back?
- Can Axolotls Regrow Their Lungs?
- How Fast Can An Axolotl Regenerate Legs?
- Can Axolotls Get Scars?
What Body Parts Can Axolotls Regenerate?
To put it simply, axolotls basically have the ability to regenerate almost any part of the body. This includes (and is not limited to) their arms, gills, legs, tails, and even internal organs. However, this does not include the brain, as an axolotl can only partially regenerate part of its brain.
There have been studies to prove that axolotls have the ability to regenerate their spinal cord after it’s been crushed within about 3 weeks, which is then evident by the axolotl using its arms and legs like normal again.
The ability to regenerate makes axolotls something of an invincible super-animal, because in the event that their hearts become faulty, they can regenerate a faulty heart ventricle to successfully pump blood around their bodies within 30-90 days.
Humans and other animals, on the other hand, are prone to debilitating diseases and even death from a heart blockage.
This means that if an axolotl were to encounter a predator, be at the end of a potentially life-threatening injury, or if they are reaching the end of their lives, they have the ability to regenerate its essential organs and limbs that work to keep them alive for so long.
This is part of the reason why their lifespan is between 10 and 15 years!
How Many Times Can An Axolotl Regenerate Its Limbs?
However, while axolotls are basically invincible in their regenerative skills, this doesn’t mean they are completely immortal. All good things come to an end, after all, which is why there is usually a definite number of times an axolotl can regenerate its limbs.
It is suggested by researchers that axolotls can only regenerate their body parts up to 5 times before they cannot regrow whatever needed help. This means that if they are unlucky enough to have their left leg amputated multiple times, it probably won’t grow back after 5 years.
However, this is more in relation to axolotls in the wild who are exposed to certain risks and predators that will increase their chances of needing to regenerate body parts. In captivity, they’re less likely to reach their definitive amount of regeneration because they are in a far safer environment.
How Do Axolotls Regenerate Body Parts?
Let’s take it back to high school biology – we all know that a genome is a set of genes/genetic material found in a cell. The human genome is commonly known as our DNA, wherein everybody has a slightly different genome DNA sequence depending on genetic diseases.
While there are said to be 3 billion base pairs found in human genomes (the two strands linked together with other pairs to make DNA), it is suggested that axolotls have up to 32 billion base pairs in their genome.
To put it simply, axolotls were blessed with a complex genome system that heals a wounded area remarkably fast. It sort of happens in the same way that human skin forms a scab over a cut or burn, but for an axolotl, this healing process generally lasts a matter of hours until the cells have recovered the wound.
However, the cells don’t stop there. The cells in this area divide themselves and quickly form together to create a blastema (a cone-shaped blob), which marks the start of the regeneration process. From this blob, the body will regrow a limb or gill from scratch.
The cells that are responsible for this are taken from a variety of cells near the wounded area, such as tissue, muscle, bone, and skin cells. In some way, these cells are kind of versatile and do more than their actual jobs in order to regenerate the missing or broken part.
Can Axolotl Gills Grow Back?
Axolotls can regrow their gills. Because their gills are fragile but also their main method of breathing, it’s vital that axolotls can regrow their gills effectively and rapidly.
Can Axolotls Regrow Their Lungs?
Axolotls can regrow their lungs! However, as their primary method of breathing is through their gills, they don’t need to regenerate their lungs as often as amputated limbs. Their primary method of respiration is with their gills, which protrude from their heads in a hair-like way.
Despite this, axolotls have their lungs to breathe as a backup when the oxygen levels get too low in the water. It’s common for axolotls to breathe with their lungs by swimming up to the surface and gulping bubbles. As it’s not their primary method of respiration, however, axolotls don’t generally regenerate their lungs as often as other body parts.
How Fast Can An Axolotl Regenerate Legs?
The regeneration process can range in speed depending on the body part, the axolotl’s age and health, and how often it has been regrown. It is suggested that the more times a leg or similar body part has been regrown, it’ll take longer for the next regeneration to be completed.
Research has shown that juvenile axolotls can regrow limbs faster than adult axolotls, which is probably due to the younger age of the cells responsible for the regrowth.
If the axolotl is living in ideal conditions (including a good diet and water quality), it can regrow a leg within 40-50 days. It is common for the regrowth period to take up to 90 days in some cases when the injury or amputation was severe, such as a crushed spinal cord.
Can Axolotls Get Scars?
So, if axolotls have magical regenerative cells that heal wounds somewhat instantly, does this mean they can’t get scars? To some extent, yes, axolotls can heal an injury without developing a scar!
It all comes down to the axolotl genome that works to quickly heal a wound. Before it starts to regrow the limb, the cells will start to heal a wound within a matter of hours.
This healing process is kind of similar to how human skin naturally heals itself after being cut, scratched, or burned – but unlike humans, axolotls won’t develop a scar.
Instead, the axolotl genome is so complex and so powerful that it’ll heal the area completely, to the point where the limb will grow back with no sign of injury in the first place.
It is also said that even an old axolotl is capable of scar-free healing, as well as one who has regrown a certain limb the maximum number of times. This is because it takes far fewer cells to heal a wound without creating a scar than it takes to grow a body part.