Hellbender

Cryptobranchus alleganiensis

The largest fully aquatic salamander in the United States, the hellbender absorbs oxygen from the water through its wrinkly skin. Found in fast-flowing streams and rivers, it hides among the rocks during the day. At night, the hellbender uses its sense of smell to hunt for crayfish and other small creatures.

  • Look closely! The hellbender is a master of disguise, often hiding among the rocks.
  • Hellbender nicknames include snot otter, water dog, lasagna lizard and Allegheny alligator.
  • After a female lays up to 500 eggs, she leaves the male in charge of guarding and defending the nest.
  • A layer of slippery mucus covering its body makes the hellbender harder for predators to catch.
  • Despite its fearsome name, the hellbender is not poisonous or aggressive and poses no threat to humans.

Saving Hellbenders

The hellbender requires high-quality water from which it absorbs oxygen through its skin. Poor water quality is one of the possible reasons that hellbender populations are in decline. You can help hellbenders by reducing your use of chemicals and keeping our waterways clean.

Fact File

lengthLength: 1 to 2 ft
habitatHabitat: Rivers and streams
dietDiet: Crayfish, small fish and aquatic insects