While Mojang continue to work on Minecraft's massive Caves & Cliffs update, the latest Java snapshot build has introduced its very best feature: axolotls. These adorable aquatic amphibians won't be live in the main game until the update's full launch in mid-2021, but folks on the bleeding edge can now befriend them. More like amfriendians.
As the Java snapshot 20W51A notes explain, these critters love eating tropical fish, so they'll swim around you all friendly-like if you have a tropical fish bucket. Begging for treats, I guess. You can scoop axolotls up into buckets yourself to carry around too, because they don't like being out the water unless it's raining (I wouldn't try this with real axolotls). Like the real creatures, who can regenerate whole limbs and even parts of vital organs like the heart and brain, they'll heal themselves if injured, after playing dead for a bit. If you kill something they were fighting, they'll say thanks by giving you a burst of their regenerative powers. You can get them to fight for you too.
Mojang gave a peek at axolotls when they first announced the update:
While Minecraft's axolotls don't naturally spawn in the world under this snapshot, you can grab axolotl eggs from the creative inventory. You'll need to install the snapshot build to try that, mind. And not many people use snapshots. So the real excitement will be when this update actually launches. Or possibly even later, once mods are updated and servers finally follow. But my point is: axolotls!
They're a wonderful creature, fascinating for both their regeneration and how they live their entire lives in a juvenile form. They're a species of salamander who, unlike others, don't metamorphose and lose their external gills and fins as they grow. You can force axolotls to develop into an unnatural adult form by jacking up their hormones, but it's not at all healthy.
I adore axolotls. I kept a pair as pets as a kid, and loved their combination of fascinating biology, chill vibes, happy faces, and ruthless predator instincts. Those smiling mouths don't seem so sweet once you've witnessed them suck up an entire earthworm like a spaghetto. I like axolotls so much that I have a tattoo of two in a place that's incredibly awkward to take a good photo of without assistance so they look real wonky but they're not, okay.
It is nice to see Minecraft add another endangered species, following pandas, maybe getting the kiddywinkles interested in conservation. Axolotls were native to two lakes in Mexico, but habit destruction, pollution, and the arrival of invasive species of predatory fish mean they're on the very brink of extinction in the wild, if they aren't already. Plenty do still live in captivity as pets and, er, for scientific research.
Over in the Windows 10 version of Minecraft, Mojang last week added RTX raytracing because... reasons? idk