Much larger than any other salamanders in their range, hellbenders are most closely related to giant Japanese and Chinese salamanders (which can grow up to six feet long).
Hellbenders feed on crayfish and small fish in rocky, swift-flowing rivers in a host of Eastern states. This week, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo announced that it re-introduced 38 of the rare animals into streams in western New York.
The hellbender is an important part of our state’s aquatic biodiversity and it’s clear that we have to take dramatic steps to ensure its continued presence in New York.
Not many people have seen a hellbender in the wild, because they are fully aquatic and like to hide under large rocks.
The narrow edge along the dorsal surface of their tails helps propel them through the water, according to the Bronx Zoo.
Water CurrentsThe goal of Water Currents is to bring together diverse voices to discuss pressing issues in freshwater. Help Save the Colorado RiverBy promising to conserve water you can help restore freshwater ecosystems.


Some 170,000 have already cut their water footprint, and, with conservation partners, Change the Course has restored more than 4 billion gallons to the Colorado River Basin. Perspective: What Will Happen When the Aquifers Run Dry?If you think the water crisis can't get worse, wait until the aquifers are drained. The might Colorado, the life and soul of the West, is one of the most tapped rivers in the world. If anyone holding the copyright to any of the images on this website objects to their presence here please contact us and the offending images will be removed immediately.
Hellbenders’ flat bodies average about two feet (60 centimeters) in length, but have been known to reach lengths up to 30 inches (74 centimeters). They have an unusual means of respiration that involves gas exchange through capillaries found in their dorsoventral folds.
Numerous studies over the past decade have shown that there are few young hellbenders available to join the breeding population. As in much of their range, the giant salamander has declined there thanks to disease, pollution, and loss of habitat.


We are particularly interested in water consumption, locally and globally, and restoration and conservation of freshwater ecosystems. For every pledge, Change the Course will restore 1,000 gallons back to the Colorado River. The water the dinosaurs drank millions of years ago is the same water that falls as rain today. This ‘head-starting’ program will enable us to release young hellbenders back to the wild at a life-stage that may enable them to survive and thrive in New York.
We deeply appreciate the support of WCS, the Bronx Zoo and the Buffalo Zoo as conservation partners in the recovery of this iconic salamander.



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