Distribution and Habitat
Ambystoma mexicanum lives only in Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco, both adjacent to Mexico City. Xochimilco and Chalco are part of a complex of five lakes, among which the Aztecs built Mexico City and around which the city has since expanded. The lakes were once highly productive, many of their species being economically and nutritionally valuable. Today a great deal of the area has been drained, or compromised by development of other kinds. Lake Xochimilco is known for its "floating gardens," or "chinampas," strips of land between drainage channels where locals grow vegetables and flowers for market. A. mexicanum can be found in these channels and in remaining lake areas. It may have previously lived in the channels joining two of the other lakes in the complex (Griffiths et al. 1988). In the wild, the species lives underwater. Outside of the wild, it is kept as an aquarium pet and is used widely in laboratory experiments.