Hellbender: Cryptobranchus Alleganiensis
Distribution and Habitat
Hellbenders inhabit only two of New York State’s river drainages, including the Susquehanna River drainage in southern N.Y. and Pennsylvania, and all the eastern states down through Georgia.
Hellbenders prefer clear fast-flowing larger streams and rivers with rocky bottoms and plenty of cover in the form of logs, rocks and debris.
Hellbenders are totally aquatic large salamanders with loosely folded skin. These folds of skin are used in respiration because they do not have gills and the lungs are used for buoyancy. Their head is flattened and since they go through an incomplete metamorphosis, they lack eyelids and retain one pair of gill slits that are seen as circular openings on their necks.
Their small eyes are located on top of the head and can detect light, but are not good with images. All adults have 4 digits on each forelimb and 5 digits on the back limbs. Hellbenders are sexually dimorphic, with the females being larger than the males, with lengths of 11-20 inches. Their color varies from yellowish brown to almost black. They live long, up to 30 years in captivity.
Hellbenders are solitary, nocturnal salamanders.
Hellbenders are cannibalistic carnivores.
Hellbenders folds of skin are used for respiration.