Hellbender

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Hellbender

Conservation status: Endangered

Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Lissamphibia
Order:Caudata
Family:Cryptobranchidae
Genus:Cryptobranchus
Species:C. alleganiensis
Binomial name
Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
Daudin, 1803
Subspecies

C. a. alleganiensis (Eastern Hellbender)
C. a. bishopi (Ozark Hellbender)

The Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) is a large aquatic salamander native to North America whose habitat includes large, swiftly flowing streams with rocky bottoms.

Contents

Range

The range of the Eastern Hellbender (C. a. alleganiensis) in North America extends from southwestern and south central New York, west to southern Illinois, and south to extreme northeastern Mississippi and the northern parts of Alabama and Georgia. A disjunct population occurs in east-central Missouri. The Ozark Hellbender (C. a. bishopi) subspecies exists as a disjunct population in southeastern Missouri and adjacent Arkansas.

Anatomy & Physiology

Hellbenders have a flat body and head, with small eyes. Like all salamanders, they have short legs and thin bodies. Their tails, however, are especially keeled to help propel them through water. They have four toes on their front legs and five on their back ones. Although the Hellbender has working lungs, there is a single gill slit along each side of its neck, resembling fleshy folds. They reach lengths of eighteen to twenty-nine inches (forty-six to seventy-four centimeters), and weigh in at about three to five pounds. Their primary sources of food are crayfish, snails and worms. Male Hellbenders are territorial and physically compete for nesting areas. Hellbenders may live up to twenty-nine years in captivity, and follow a normal amphibious life cycle.

Reproduction

Females lay between 200 and 500 eggs after their breeding period in late August through September. Eggs are deposited in a nest made by the male under a large rock and will be guarded by the male until the young hatch after 2-3 months of gestation.

External links and references

nl:Noord-Amerikaanse modderduivel

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