How Fast Does an Axolotl Swim?

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The axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), a salamander from Mexico, is a popular aquarium pet because of its bizarre appearance. Axolotls never lose their juvenile appearance and retain dramatic external gills. They can move at several speeds, depending on the situation.

Their Speed

There are several ways to measure the speed of an axolotl. Their average speed is listed as 10 mph (16kph). However, this does not account for everything. Their swimming behaviors can vary considerably, and they can lunge much faster when hunting. So while this is the standard answer, there is more to the story.

Activity Level

Axolotls' activity levels vary considerably depending on their age. Young axolotls tend to be very active and swim around quite a bit. As axolotls age, they become less active. Older axolotls tend to be very sedentary, and hunt more as ambush predators, sitting and waiting for prey rather than seeking it out. As a result, older axolotls tend to be slower than their younger counterparts.

Swimming

Axolotls' average speed tends to be misleading. These amphibians usually live in very small bodies of water, areas where they don't generally have enough room to really cruise. So their practical speed could be very limited by the fact that they don't really have enough space to reach their full speed. So, while in theory an axolotl could reach speeds of 10 mph or so, in practice they rarely move this quickly.

Lunging

As mentioned before, axolotls are largely ambush predators. This is a type of hunting behavior where a predator sits and waits for prey to come by. This strategy tends to conserve energy. However, this type of hunting often entails very sudden, rapid movements. Axolotls use almost snakelike reflexes to lunge at their food suddenly and catch it before it can react. These movements are often much, much faster than their average swimming speed.

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