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The Lake Pátzcuaro cross- toothed newt

(Ambystoma dumerilii)

Ambystoma dumerilii is a species of salamander endemic to the eponymous Lake Pátzcuaro in Mexico. This is located in the northwest of the country at an altitude of about 1900 meters above sea level. Through the introduction of invasive fish species, years of overfishing and the sewage  the nearby town goes the population of these unique animals in nature  strong back. For this reason, from the Tiergarten  Schönbrunn in Vienna a project for  conservation of this species launched, 

that  already had great breeding successes. The Lake Pátzcuaro cross-toothed newt is characterized by its particularly pronounced gill tufts, which are black to violet in colour, its grey-brown color and black edges on the soles of its feet and fingertips. He also has clearly visible rib grooves as well as a strong body and a broad head. Lake Pátzcuaro cross-toothed newts reach a size of up to 30 cm, but there are also reports of significantly larger specimens. Similar to the related axolotl ( Ambystoma mexicanum ), which is widespread in aquaristics , this amphibian species lives its entire life as a permanent larva in the water and also reproduces as larvae, since it does not produce enough thyroid hormone to initiate a transformation into a land form (metamorphosis). , as is common in most amphibians. The animals have been successfully kept and bred by nuns for the production of cough syrup for many years. They are relatively calm animals and move relatively little during the day. When catching prey  However, they open their mouths at lightning speed and suck in the prey with negative pressure. In nature, the main food is probably a dwarf crayfish called Cambarellus patzcuarensis , but in the aquarium they are also problem-free with shrimp meat and defrosted fish  or to feed them "axolotl pellets".

Threat Statement: Ambystoma dumerilii is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List and due to heavy capture of the animals as well as fish introduced into the lake and pollution of the lake, there has been a very severe population decline . A sighting of a salamander was confirmed by local fishermen in 2003, but this is probably the last known sighting, which does not exclude the possibility of the complete extinction of the population in Lake Pátzcuaro. The preservation breeding project of the Lake Pátzcuaro transverse-toothed newt, managed by Schönbrunn Zoo, represents a great hope, perhaps even the last.

Article by Timon Glaw

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