Cryptobranchus alleganiensis

Fascinating Facts

  • As the largest aquatic salamander in the US, they can grow up to 2 ft long (12-15 inches on average).
  • Other names include “snot otter”, “devil dog”, “mud-devil”, “grampus”, “Allegheny alligator”, and “water dog.”
  • Males prepare nests and attend eggs beneath large flat rocks or submerged logs, protecting and aerating them.
  • The greatest threat to hellbenders is pollution of streams or rivers.
  • Their entire skin is photosensitive.
  • Fossils date them back 160 million years.


Hellbenders live in clear, silt-free mountain streams. Adults are extremely territorial, usually chasing off any daytime visitors. They are nocturnal and eat mostly crayfish, supplemented by small fish, other hellbenders, tadpoles, toads and water snakes

Status in the Wild

Near Threatened – IUCN 2004


Eastern United States from southern New York down to Alabama

Location in the Zoo

Fish and Amphibians Zone of the Sculpture Learning Plaza

Animals & Exhibits