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
Ozark Hellbender - C. alleganiensis bishopi


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.

Adult Hellbender



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).


Hellbender eggs   Juvenile Hellbender


Source: www.marshall.edu/herp/hellbender/hellbenderdesc.htm


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.


Hellbender habitat (Pisgah National Forest, NC ??)



  1. Population Structure, Seasonal Activity, and Larval Density of the Hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina, Humphries [abstract]
  2. A Comparison of Basic Water Parameters at Capture Locations for Japanese Giant Salamander in the Tsuchiya River and the Eastern Hellbender in Pisgah National Forest
  3. Distribution and status of hellbenders in New York. Alvin Breisch
  4. Decline in Arkansas and Missouri populations of hellbenders. Wheeler, Mathis, Wilkinson
  5. Characteristics of sperm of male hellbenders from declining and "stable" populations. Mathis, Unger, Wilkinson



Hellbender Taxon Management Account
Home of the Ozark Hellbender