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Asiatic Giant Salamanders and Hellbenders: Cryptobranchidae

Conservation Status

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists one species of Asiatic giant salamanders and hellbenders as Critically Endangered and two species as Low Risk/Near Threatened. Critically Endangered means facing extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Low Risk/Near Threatened means at risk of becoming threatened with extinction in the future.

Much of the habitat of Asiatic giant salamanders and hellbenders has been destroyed or damaged by pollution and by people trying to control the flow of rivers by removing rocks and building dams. Rock removal takes away the salamanders' hiding and breeding places. Dam building forms lakes, which do not have enough fast water flow and are too warm for these salamanders. Habitat also is destroyed by the buildup of silt, which is dirt that is almost like sand. When river or stream banks do not have enough plant life on them to keep the soil in place, as happens when livestock eat all the grass away, when all the trees are cut down, or when farmers do not use good planting practices, the soil is washed from the land into streams and rivers. The silt smothers the eggs of salamanders and other animals and also smothers the invertebrates (in-VER-teh-bre-hts), or animals without backbones, that they eat.

Save the Hellbenders

If you accidentally catch a hellbender while you are fishing, set it free. Do not take it home to keep as a pet.

People may be collecting too many Asiatic giant salamanders and hellbenders. Scientists are successfully breeding Japanese giant salamanders in zoos, and they are trying to figure out how to breed hellbenders, so that these animals can be returned to the wild.

Additional topics

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