The Ozark Hellbender, America’s Largest Amphibian, Is Now Listed As Endangered
The Ozark hellbender, a salamander that grows to two feet in length and is the largest amphibian in North America, as well as one of the largest on earth, has been listed as Endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Native to the rivers and streams of the hilly Ozark region of Missouri and Arkansas, the creature has suffered from pollution, from habitat loss due to the damming of rivers, and from a serious fungal disease that had been killing frogs and other amphibians all over the world.
Plans for keeping the hellbender from going extinct include breeding them in captivity. Hellbenders can live for up to 30 years, and they do not reach sexual maturity until they are at least five years old.
The hellbender’s flattened shape makes it more streamlined for moving around in fast water. These huge salamanders spend most of the daylight hours hiding under rocks; at night they emerge and stalk crayfish as well as feeding upon one another’s eggs.