Hellbender
Hellbender
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Hellbender

Common names: Hellbender
Scientific name: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
Size: 24 to 40 cm
Weight: 358.1 g (average)
Population: unknown (between 10,000 – 100,000 individuals)
Distribution: the Susquehanna River drainage in southern New York and Pennsylvania, and large portions of the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi River drainage from western Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, extreme southern Indiana, most of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, northern Alabama and Georgia, western North Carolina and Virginia.
Issues: habitat destruction, overexploitation
IUCN Red List Status: Near threaten

The Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, is listed as ‘Near Threatened’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM. Also commonly known as “snot otter” and “old lasagna sides,” the adult Hellbender is one of North America’s largest salamander species. It occurs in rivers and streams from New York to Mississippi and throughout south-central Missouri into northern Arkansas. This species requires cool, well-oxygenated, clean running water and is therefore an important barometer of overall ecosystem health.
The Hellbender is a habitat specialist with little tolerance of environmental change and is threatened by habitat degradation. Logging, mining, road construction and maintenance, and other activities, can cause extensive sedimentation that covers the loose rock and gravel that are important sites for nesting, shelter and food production.
Conservation measures include addressing the environmental issues contributing to the decline of Hellbenders, and enhancing their numbers in the wild with offspring hatched in captivity. For the first time, the species has been successfully bred through a project led by the Saint Louis Zoo, the Missouri Department of Conservation, Arkansas Fish & Game Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

REFERENCES: Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Encyclopedia of Life.

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