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Learning how to care for axolotl salamanders in our class

Kidsday reporters Jocelyn Scarlatos, left, and Kaylee Fehrenbach

Kidsday reporters Jocelyn Scarlatos, left, and Kaylee Fehrenbach of Jericho Elementary School in Centereach with their classroom axolotls, a type of salamander. Credit: April Mindlin

An axolotl is a salamander and in the amphibian family. Their natural habitat is Lake Xochimilco, an ancient lake in southern Mexico City. They are endangered in Mexico due to pollution and habitat destruction.

Axolotls can grow to be up to 18 inches long. Axolotls can also regenerate any major part of their bodies, including their spinal cords. They eat worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insect larvae and also small fish, which makes them carnivores. Axolotls can be great pets. They have quite good eyesight, and, unlike fish, axolotls do not have a sensitive protective layer, but they should not be handled because they breathe under water through huge feathery gills.

Axolotls stay in the larval stage their whole lives. The color of an axolotl’s body can be black, brown or albino (this means it has no pigment). We are very lucky to our very own axolotls in our STEM lab at Jericho that our teacher, Ms. April Mindlin, purchased through a grant. They love to eat worms right out of our hands.

We named them Sunshine and Toothless because he looks like the dragon from “How to Train Your Dragon” movie.

April Mindlin’s fifth-grade class, Jericho Elementary School, Centereach

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