The largest amphibian in North America was once found throughout the cool, clear streams of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. Today these shy creatures are only found in a narrow region extending from eastern West Virginia south through Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and ending in north Georgia. A subspecies in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and southern Missouri is a federally endangered species.
Known as the Hellbender, they feed primarily on crayfish though they will eat small fish, invertebrates, and other Hellbenders. Reaching a length of up to 29 inches, these giant salamanders are entirely aquatic and despite having lungs, breathe by absorbing oxygen from the water through their skin.
Enjoy this cartoon rendering of this Super-Sized Salamander – the Hellbender.