Hellbender - Cryptobranchus alleganiensis
For a comprehensive article about Hellbenders, see the Hellbender Taxon Management Account compiled by William P. Flanagan.
Eastern Hellbender - C. alleganiensis alleganiensis
With up to 27 inches (69 cm) in length, hellbenders are the largest North American salamanders. Females are typically larger than males. Hellbenders have mottled, brown, flattened body with paddle-like tails that are well suited for their aquatic lifestyle. Unlike many other salamanders, they do not possess external gills but characteristic lateral folds of skin to enhance oxygen absorption.
During the spawnig season in late summer and early fall females deposit their eggs into nests built and guarded by the males. One nest may contain up to 450 eggs from one or more females. Eggs develop into larvae within 8-12 weeks; the larva stage last 4-5 years. Hellbenders reach sexual maturity at five (males) to six years (females).
Hellbenders are aquatic salamanders and only rarely leave the water. They are found in clear mountain streams with clean, cold water and rocky river beds.