Japanese Giant Salamander

The second largest salamander in the world, the Japanese giant salamander spends its entire life underwater. Lacking gills, it absorbs oxygen from the water through its wrinkly skin. With poor eyesight, the salamander relies on its sense of smell and touch while hunting for prey at night.


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.

Fire-bellied newt

Less than six inches long, this aquatic amphibian feeds on insects and other invertebrates in slow-moving or still waters. Named for the bright red-orange coloration on its belly, the fire-bellied newt is toxic to the touch, a defense mechanism against predators. In zoos, however, they seem to lose their toxicity.

Two-toed Amphiuma

Up to three feet long and slippery, the eel-like two-toed amphiuma is an entirely aquatic salamander and considered one of the longest in the United States. The top of its body is dark brown or black with a dark grey underside.