devil otter

washingtonpost.com
Why this zoo is putting gigantic, slimy ‘snot otters’ back in streams
The hellbender is the biggest salamander in the Western Hemisphere. But it's under threat.
By https://www.facebook.com/sarah.kaplan.31

Herpetologist Don Boyer inevitably drew attention when he drove into town. People would notice his truck, with “Bronx Zoo” emblazoned across the side, and want to know what he was doing in their corner of western New York. 

One glance at the creatures was unlikely to assuage nervous onlookers. The Eastern hellbender, the largest salamander in the Western Hemisphere, looks as though someone yanked out a giant’s esophagus, gave it legs and taught it to swim. The two-foot-long amphibian has slime-covered skin, beady eyes and a paddle-like tail. Its ruffled torso resembles the edge of a lasagna noodle, inspiring one of the creature’s many colorful nicknames, “old lasagna sides.” Other monikers are equally undignified: “snot otter,” “mud devil,” “grampus.”

“They’re pretty odd-looking creatures,” Boyer acknowledged. “Nocturnal and aquatic and secretive and strange. … Otherwordly.”

But they’re also threatened. Which is why scientists at the Bronx Zoo have been working to raise the giant salamanders in captivity and then reintroduce healthy adults into the wild…

Researchers Try to Save Huge U.S. Salamander

With a long, slimy body and beady eyes, North America’s largest salamander wouldn’t top any cutest animal lists. The hellbender’s alien appearance and mysterious ways have earned the big amphibian a bad reputation and unflattering nicknames ranging from snot otter to devil dog.

But hellbenders, which can grow two or more feet long, are facing troubles bigger than an image problem. The aquatic creatures found only in swift-flowing, rocky rivers and streams are disappearing from large parts of the 16 states they inhabit.”

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