Eastern Hellbender

STATUSNear Threatened

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Cryptobranchus alleganiensis

DIETSmall fish, mollusks, worms, crayfish

RANGECentral and eastern United States

HABITATInland freshwater wetlands

Eastern Hellbender

The Eastern Hellbender was voted as Pennsylvania’s State Amphibian in April 2019.

These large salamanders can be found along the Appalachian mountain range (southwest New York to Northern Georgia and Alabama). The largest populations being found in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina.

They are completely aquatic salamanders that live in fresh water streams with large flat rocks at the bottom to use for shelter. These streams are typically between 48.2 – 72.5 degrees and are free-flowing to provide more dissolved oxygen and prey (freshwater invertebrates).

In the wild, eastern hellbenders live between 12 – 15 years. Under human care they can live up to 30 years. Lifespan in the wild is reduced due to pollution and siltation of streams. They are sensitive to pollution because they need clean and well oxygenated water.

They can also be affected by chytrid fungus.

Fun Facts: They are also referred to as “snot otters” and as “lasagna lizards.”