Eastern Hellbender Salamander is State Amphibian
On April 16, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe signed a bill declaring the Eastern Hellbender Salamander as the State Amphibian. The Eastern Hellbender is the largest salamander species in all of North America and thrives in clear, flowing river systems. The governor hopes that with the passing of this bill, the Hellbender will receive more conservation efforts than it has in the past.
The Eastern Hellbender Salamander has many nicknames, some of which include the “Allegheny Alligator,” the “Lasagna Lizard,” and the “Snot Otter.” It comes by its title of largest salamander in North America, as it can grow to be over two feet long and can weigh up to five pounds or more. For comparison, that is roughly equal to the size of a small dog or cat. Hellbenders use their wide, flat mouths to ambush crawfish and minnows to eat. If they are healthy in the stream they’ve chosen, that stream is predicted to have good long-term health. Lately, the Hellbender has been rare to find, and its population has been rapidly approaching extinction levels. With the passing of this bill, Governor Wolfe is hoping that this salamander will gain some popularity and, subsequently, protection.