Hellbender salamanders back in New York


This video from the USA says about itself:

A nationwide group is working to save the declining Hellbender species and hopes it can rally others to do the same. Hellbenders are North America’s largest salamander, typically 11-24 inches long with flat green or brown bodies that have noticeable wrinkles on the sides. They are long-lived and spend up to 30 years under flat rocks in rivers and streams across Appalachia, parts of the Midwest and the northern tips of several southern states.

But the eastern hellbender is endangered in five states, and protected or of special concern in many others. This video shows how a team from several state, national, and university groups (including Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources) are working together with the goal of increasing the Hellbender population in Indiana. For more information, visit: http://www.helpthehellbender.org.

By Jennifer Viegas in the USA:

Loch Ness Monster-Like Reptile Returns to NY

Sorry, Ms Viegas, a hellbender is an amphibian; not a reptile.

A large, Loch Ness monster-resembling reptile has been re-introduced to streams in western New York State, the Wildlife Conservation Society today reports.

Thirty-eight of the animals, known as Eastern hellbenders, were placed under rocks in streams by Don Boyer, Bronx Zoo Curator of Herpetology, and Sarah Parker, Bronx Zoo Wild Animal Keeper.

The researchers and their colleagues raised the Eastern hellbenders from eggs collected in the Allegheny River.

Eastern hellbenders, also known as devil dogs, Allegheny alligators and snot otters, are among the world’s largest salamanders. They can grow to around 2 feet in length. (The world’s two largest salamanders, the Japanese giant salamander and the Chinese hellbender, can both grow up to six feet long).

“The hellbender is an important part of our state’s aquatic biodiversity and it’s clear that we have to take dramatic steps to ensure its continued presence in New York,” Patricia Riexinger, Director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said in a press release.

According to the NY Department of Environmental Conservation, the big salamanders have been in decline due to pollution in their aquatic habitat and damming of rivers and streams, which lowers the dissolved oxygen content and eliminates some of their habitat. Siltation of streams and rivers resulting from agricultural practices and construction work, such as bridges and roadwork, is yet another problem.

Another issue is “the unintentional or intentional and senseless killing by fishermen who accidentally catch hellbenders and erroneously fear that they are venomous.”

Let’s face it. The Eastern hellbender won’t win any beauty contests. They have flattened heads and bodies, small eyes, and slimy, wrinkly skin. They are typically a brown or reddish-brown color with a pale underbelly. Their tails feature a narrow edge that helps to propel them through water.

But the Eastern hellbender is a gentle creature that spends most of its time searching for crayfish, insects, small fish and other prey. Studies show that it doesn’t favor game fish, so there’s no real conflict with humans.

It is actually a good sign to spot one, since studies show hellbenders have a preference for clean streams and rivers. When they are around, it’s generally an indication that water quality is very good.

Indiana and other states are home to hellbenders too, as you can see in this video [top of the post].

A model of the world’s largest living amphibian’s bite, the Chinese giant salamander, reveals that it feeds on prey located in front of it, but can also perform quick strikes to the side on approaching animals: here.

10 thoughts on “Hellbender salamanders back in New York

  1. With what some would consider ugly looks and a name like ‘Hellbender,” its easy to imagine that these creatures are pretty misunderstood. Hellbenders are not venomous, though their skin secretions are somewhat toxic (I don’t recommend touching your eyes after handling one). They will bite, but only if they are really provoked. A common myth is that hellbenders will ‘ruin’ good fishing streams by eating all the fish. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, if you see hellbenders in a stream, this is an excellent indication that the water quality is still good — and this is good for both hellbenders and game fish. The hellbender’s voracious appetite for crayfish also means that they are very important for keeping a stream’s food chain balanced, and this is good for fish and the entire ecosystem.

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