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Asiatic Giant Salamanders and Hellbenders: Cryptobranchidae - Behavior And Reproduction

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansAsiatic Giant Salamanders and Hellbenders: Cryptobranchidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Hellbender (cryptobranchus Alleganiensis): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, HELLBENDERS ASIATIC GIANT


Asiatic giant salamanders and hellbenders spend their entire lives in water, rarely coming to the surface. They hunt at night. These salamanders capture prey by quickly opening their flexible jaws and sucking in the prey with a rush of water.

Asiatic giant salamanders and hellbenders breed from August through January, as the days get shorter and the water becomes colder. As the breeding season approaches, these salamanders, especially the males, become more active during the day as they look for places to mate and build nests. They usually choose a place under a rock or log that is protected on the upstream side but has an entrance facing downstream. Tunnels and cracks in the stream or river bank also are good places for hellbender nests.

After finding a good breeding place, a male Asiatic giant salamander or hellbender places himself at the entrance to the nest and lures in or forces in one or more egg-filled females. The male fights a female if she tries to leave before laying her eggs. As the female lays two strings of eggs, the male places himself alongside her. He rocks the lower part of his body and releases sperm over the egg masses. Fertilization (FUR-teh-lih-ZAY-shun), or the joining of egg and sperm to start development, takes place outside the body. The male then guards the eggs and the nest from predators, which include other salamanders in the same species. The larvae are usually 1 to 1.3 inches (2.5 to 3.3 centimeters) long when they hatch. In the wild, Asiatic giant salamanders live more than sixty years, and hellbenders live more than thirty years.


People believed the side-to-side movements of hellbenders and the wavy motion of their skin made these animals look like they were experiencing the tortures of hell.

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