A few weeks ago, a new resident moved into my apartment. We are already a full house: four humans, one cat, 500ish worms, and possibly some undetected mice or roaches residing in the walls. So, when a perky little axolotl dropped their bags in our doorway, I was a bit concerned with how they’d fit in. Luckily, I had nothing to be worried about. “Boba” is a delightful but unobtrusive housemate, and they even set their tank up right in front of the door to greet us all when we get home! This month, I finally made some time to get to know Boba better and also learned some things about axolotl biology. Boba’s answers were translated by César Vargas and Marley Kern.
Audrey Goldfarb: What does it mean to be “neotenic”?
Boba: I am a baby. Basically, I am forever a baby salamander, never a grown-up salamander. So, I’ll never go through metamorphosis like my frog and salamander cousins.
AG: What is the most juvenile thing about you?
B: My humans say I’m picky because I like my worms cut up into little pieces and they have to wash them for me. I spit my food out when I don’t want it.
AG: Conversely, are you especially mature in any way?
B: No…not really
AG: If you could, what would you want to be when you grow up?
B: Well, I don’t really grow up, I just get bigger! But when I’m big I wanna be a worm biologist so I can study worms and figure out which is the tastiest!
AG: What are your hobbies?
B: Going with the flow and hanging out in the floating garden in my tank.
AG: Do your humans give you treats?
B: Not yet, they said when I’m bigger they’ll let me try new foods.
AG: Do your humans give you words of affirmation?
B: Mmmmhmmm! They tell me how cute and cool I am. I like it when they talk to me.
AG: What is an issue you’re passionate about?
B: Composting! It’s where the humans keep my worm dinners! They say it’s good for other stuff too, but I don’t know what else it would do.
AG: Do you have any hot takes?
B: I think fish are overrated, much better as snacks than pets. Also, I don’t get why there’s a big deal about my extinction, like I’m obviously alive, why do they say I’m going extinct?
AG: Would you consider donating your body to science?
B: Yup! I can grow my body parts back anyway, so I can donate an arm and a leg if science asks me!
AG: Do you get lonely?
B: Not too lonely, I’m watching the fluffy pet that runs around outside my tank.
AG: Your tank is in a perfect spot to see everyone coming and going throughout the day. Do you find human behavior entertaining?
B: Yeah! They look so funny on two legs, like, why do they do that? I like four legs much better. Sometimes their coming and going also interrupts my naps, but I know they are busy humans.
AG: Describe your perfect Saturday.
B: Take a walk around the tank, find a good spot to float, and nap the day away dreaming about worms.
AG: What is your favorite thing about your humans?
B: They take good care of me and give me yummy worms!