Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)

…is a species of giant salamander found throughout eastern North America. Like its Asian cousins the hellbender is often found in fast moving bodies of water where it preys on small fish and crayfish. Hellbenders are perfectly adapted to their environment, as their flattened shape gives them less resistance to the fast flowing water, and allows them to crawl in-between narrow rocks. They also have light-sensitive cells all over their bodies which are most strong on their tail. These help them hide safely under rocks without their tails giving their position away. And if that wasn’t enough they have an excellent sense of smell which helps them locate prey as their eyesight is poor. Like their fish prey they also have a lateral line which helps them detect vibrations in the water. All of this and their 2 foot length make them expert predators, however this does not protect them from humans as several hellbender subspecies, specifically the Ozark hellbender C.a.bishopi, have been listed as endangered due to human interactions.



Image Source(s)

via Bronx Zoo

In a stream in the Alleghany River watershed in upstate New York, hellbenders are settling back into their native digs—or under native rocks, as per their preferred lifestyle. It’s the latest accomplishment for our hellbender head-start program, a collaboration between the Bronx Zoo, the New York State DEC, and the Buffalo Zoo. Read more: http://bit.ly/hellbenders
Photo by Julie Larsen Maher ©WCS


Watch on willparson.tumblr.com

Triggered by air bubbles, a giant salamander (Cryptobranchus) executes its suction feeding mechanism at 1/100 slow-motion. The two largest species of giant salamander live in Asia, but the third-largest is North America’s own Eastern Hellbender, which is highly susceptible to poor water quality.