WATCH — Adorable? Ugly? Meet Minecraft’s axolotl, a real-life endangered species

Quinn Murphy
Story by Quinn Murphy and CBC Kids News • 2022-06-02 05:59

There are ‘a lotta’ questions to ask about axolotls

It’s been about a year since axolotls (pronounced ACK-suh-LAH-tuhls) were introduced in Minecraft, but did you know that unlike creepers or golems, these pixel critters actually exist in the real world? 

An axolotl is a kind of salamander.

It’s an amphibian, meaning it lives in water and on land.

You can’t find it just anywhere, though.

It only lives in a few lakes and canals in Mexico.

Axolotls can come in many unique colours and patterns. Wild axolotls are primarily brown, while captive axolotls are more often pink or white. (Image credit: izanbar/Getty Images)

Why Minecraft loves them

Agnes Larsson, Vanilla Minecraft Game Developer, who helped bring these quirky critters to the game, said they are a perfect fit for Minecraft

She described them as “adorable, a little bit ugly and with its own unique character.”

But there’s more to it than that.

“It is also critically endangered and we want to create awareness around that,” Larsson told CBC Kids News.

In real life, the axolotl’s habitat is now limited to a very small area, and when that habitat is lost, they don’t have many options for places to go. This is why their population is decreasing.

“It’s very important for us that everyone feels equally welcome in Minecraft, and one way to achieve that is to ensure we take inspiration from all parts of the world,” Larsson said.

In Minecraft, axolotls come in different colours, and blue is the rarest colour of them all. (Image Credit: CharlieA/Minecraft Education)

Axolotls: Real vs. Minecraft

Minecraft axolotls share all kinds of similarities to their real-life counterparts. 

“We also always make sure to learn a lot about the real-world animal,” Larsson said.

“If we find possibilities to teach about the real world in a fun way, we want to do so.”

Axolotls can grow to be 30 centimetres long, which is the size of a standard school ruler. (Image credit: Vitaliy Halenov/Getty Images)

Both real and in-game axolotls have distinctive frills on their heads, and they’re primarily an aquatic species, meaning that they spend most of their life in the water. 

Plus, like real axolotls, Minecraft axolotls play dead when confronted by a potential threat. 

When a Minecraft axolotl plays dead it regenerates, allowing it to rejoin battles.

In the game, players can take snapshots of axolotls they find. (Image credit: CharlieA/Minecraft Education)

Real axolotls can also regenerate. They can regrow lost or damaged limbs, and even parts of their brain and spinal cords.

In the game, axolotls come in a variety of colours, but the rarest are the blue axolotls:  Only one in 1,200 Minecraft axolotls will have this colouring. 

The number 1,200 was chosen because that’s how many axolotls were estimated to be left in the wild when Minecraft brought them into the game one year ago. 

Want to learn more about this strange little salamander?  Click on the video to see the cute critters in action!

Have more questions? Want to tell us how we're doing? Use the “send us feedback” link below. ⬇️⬇️⬇️

TOP IMAGE CREDIT: (CharlieA/Minecraft Education, Getty Images, with graphic design by Tamisha Harris/CBC)

Get your class on the same page, add this to
Google Classroom

About the Contributor

Quinn Murphy
Quinn Murphy
CBC Kids News Contributor
Quinn Murphy lives in Vancouver, B.C., with her parents, sisters and dog, Massi. She loves to spend her days photographing and writing about animals. One day she hopes to make a difference in wildlife conservation.

Was this story worth reading?