Taylor’s Salamander, Ambystoma taylori
Taylor’s salamander (Ambystoma taylori) is a mole salamander species, in the Ambystomatidae family. The species is native only to Puebla, Mexico. Laguna Alchichica is a high-altitude crater lake and is the only habitat where you will find the species. The lake provides an extremely salty, alkaline environment for the salamander, which typically hides under overhangs in the crater’s edge.
Taylor’s salamanders commonly measure between 6 and 8 inches. Males are often larger than females. Typically, coloration is yellow and dark spots or flecks can be found on their dorsal (upper) side. Limbs never fully develop for the species. Taylor’s salamanders are often stocky, with flattened bodies and wide heads.
Taylor’s salamanders are classified as a neotenic species. Neotenic species never go through metamorphosis; therefore they remain in their larval stage. The species remains entirely aquatic into adulthood keeping its caudal fin and external gills.
Taylor’s salamanders are opportunistic feeders. They eat anything small enough to fit into their mouth. The method of buccal suction is used when hunting. The species smells for its food and uses a vacuum force to suck its prey into its mouth.
Taylor’s salamanders are listed as Critically Endangered and remain a daily threatened species. Water extraction and diversion from water leading to the lake are key factors. The disappearance of the species can also be linked to pollution of the lake and the introduction of other fish species into the lake.
Image Caption: Taylor’s salamander (Ambystoma taylori). Credit: Ruth Percino Daniel/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)