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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

Did You Know? 21 Incredible Chinese Giant Salamander Facts

Chinese giant salamander facts tell us about this amphibian.

The mighty Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus), capable of growing almost 6 ft long (1.8 m) and weighing up to 70 kg (110 lb), once had the world at its wet, stubby feet. It has lived since the era of dinosaurs. The recent growth of rapidly expanding Chinese giant salamander farms may have accelerated the disappearance of wild populations in the area. Chinese giant salamanders are considered a luxury food item in China and the acidic skin latex holds great medicinal value too. That's why they're also deemed pretty important. Nowadays, on average, a Chinese giant salamander is 1.9-50 in (5-150 cm) in length and 4.4-44 lb (2-20 kg) in weight. The Chinese giant salamander, the American hellbender, and the Japanese giant salamander are the only three distinct living species of giant salamander. However, the Chinese giant salamander is now Critically Endangered as a result of over-consumption by humans, habitat loss, and water contamination. According to the research, there are three genetic lineages of this species found across the rivers of China. They were historically thought to be a single genus but, a recent study of 17 historical museum specimens and tissue samples from wild salamanders conducted by researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and London's Natural History Museum casts doubt on this theory. If you want to know more about this fascinating animal, then read on.

If you like to read about Chinese giant salamander, then caecilian and hellbender facts will also be an interesting read for you.

Chinese Giant Salamander Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Chinese giant salamander?

Chinese giant salamander is a species of salamander and is considered to be the largest amphibian in the world. It also has an ancient genetic lineage of almost 170 million years.

What class of animal does a Chinese giant salamander belong to?

Chinese giant salamander (scientific name Andrias davidianus) belongs to the class of Amphibia.

How many Chinese giant salamanders are there in the world?

According to research, it is estimated that the wild populations of the amphibians are less than 50000. It dominated the range of Central and Southern China but in recent times, it is Critically Endangered due to human over-consumption, water pollution, and habitat destruction.

Where does a Chinese giant salamander live?

The Chinese giant salamander can only be found in mountain streams and massive lakes of China. Earlier, it dominated the range of south-western, central as well as southern China but now, it has become critically endangered so the numbers have reduced a lot in this range.

What is a Chinese giant salamander's habitat?

These amphibians are found in large mountain streams of China, typically in wooded areas, where it lives and thereby breeds. This waterbody is protected by an adult male salamander. These species are normally found between 300-800 m above sea level, but they can also be found in streams that are 190-1,330 m long. The average depth of these waters is 1.1 m. Although these species spend most of their lives under the water, it is interesting that they don’t have gills, instead they breathe through their skin.

Who do Chinese giant salamanders live with?

Except for the breeding season, these species like other salamanders are usually solitary creatures. They like to be left alone and hidden, especially the babies.

How long does a Chinese giant salamander live?

The exact lifespan of a Chinese giant salamander is not yet known but according to researches, these species can live up to 60 years or more in intense care and captivity.

How do they reproduce?

These animals usually mate twice a year and are monogamous in nature. August to September is the breeding season for these species. Sand-pushing is a male activity in which they drive gravel and sand out of their caves which takes up to eight days, and their dens are smooth and tidy until done. Females are drawn to tidy dens. They emerge from their dens and wash their bodies, thereby initiating courtship. In an underwater cave occupied by a male, females lay approximately 500 eggs in a row. A guarding male fertilizes the eggs externally, and the eggs hatch after 50-60 days. The male of these species safeguards and cares for the eggs after fertilization. After about 30 days, the larvae develop in streams and begin to eat insects, fish, worms, and more. The species is mostly nocturnal, although, during the mating season, it can come out during the day.

What is their conservation status?

More than 2 million salamanders are bred in the farms of China for their meat. Thousands of such farms cropped up all over the world as a result, with some salamanders costing more than $1,500. The wild population lives in steep valleys of woodland and cold mountain rivers. This animal is ranked second among over 4,000 amphibians on the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) EDGE amphibians list, which emphasizes conservation for Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) populations. Many millions of these species are bred on farms, but the vast majority of breeding stock is either wild-caught or the descendants of the wild species. The species has been listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN Red List due to a drastic loss in populations of more than 80% in just a few decades. The endangered Chinese Giant Salamander Conservation project was initiated by the ZSL in 2012 to improve conservation efforts for the species. The government of China and other Chinese universities, such as the Kunming Institute of Zoology, Shaanxi Normal University, and Guiyang University, are working together on this project to protect the wild populations of these animals. The project incorporates habitat studies, biological and pathogen analysis of wild populations of this species, and sampling at salamander farms to learn more about the population status in the wild, as well as the effect confined populations have on wild populations. 'Save the Salamander project' is a very famous project that is working on the conservation of the family of salamanders for their survival in China.

Chinese Giant Salamander Fun Facts

What do Chinese giant salamanders look like?

The biggest living members of the Amphibia class are the Chinese giant salamanders. Individuals as long as 1.8 m have been discovered in the past, and they measure 1 m in length and weigh about 50 kg (110 lb). Their bodies are bulky and flat, with small arms, a dorsal fin that runs from their bodies to their tails, and a long compressed tail that is almost 59% of their total size. They have flat heads, with two tiny lidless eyes and wide arched mouths. These species, like all members of the Amphibia class, have vomerine teeth. Their skin is rugged and porous, and the color ranges from brown to dark red to white and orange. On the skin, there are irregular mottled marks. The shape of larvae is similar to that of adults. The rugged riverbeds across China are expertly camouflaged by them.

Chinese giant salamander size can be as large as humans.

How cute are they?

The standard meaning of cute does not apply to these species. This flabby amphibian can grow to be about six feet long and weigh about 140 lb.

How do they communicate?

Barks, whistles, hisses, and cries are used by this species for communication. The name 'baby fish' was given to them because the Chinese giant salamander sound is strikingly similar to a baby's wail. Since they have low eyesight, they depend on vibrations sensed from nodes on their bodies' sides. These vibrations aid in the detection of prey and other salamanders in the region. During the breeding season, males secrete hormones that lure females when showering.

How big is a Chinese giant salamander?

A Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) size was historically recorded at 71 in (1.8 m) which is almost the size of a human being. Nowadays it is 40 in (1 m) long although it is critically endangered and is rarely seen.

How fast can a Chinese giant salamander move?

It is not known how fast these species can move but they travel across the range of 300 m on an average day, and they can travel up to 700 m occasionally. They will keep going until they reach another suitable habitat if they are removed from their natural habitat due to disasters such as floods. Inside their home range, these amphibians establish a territory.

How much does a Chinese giant salamander weigh?

The mighty animal is capable of weighing up to 110 lb (70 kg). It has lived since the dinosaur era and is now the world's largest amphibian. Nowadays, on average, a salamander is 4.4-44 lb (2-20 kg) in weight.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names assigned to the male and females of these giant species.

What would you call a baby Chinese giant salamander?

There is no specified name for the baby of these species. At the age of five or six, the young attain maturity and can grow to be 16-20 in (40-50 cm) long.

What do they eat?

Like other Cryptobranchidae salamanders, these are also predatory animals. The Chinese giant salamander diet includes crabs, frogs, water shrews, fish, other invertebrates. From head to tail, sensory nodes extend along the sides of the body, allowing it to track prey. They are most active at night, as they are on the lookout for food, and they spend the day hidden in underwater caverns. The Chinese giant salamander eating process happens with their buccal suction where their jaws' elastic cartilage is formed in such a way that one side of their mandible is deeply depressed, resulting in asymmetrical suction. After that, prey is sucked into their throats.

Are they poisonous?

They secrete a certain type of sticky fluid from their skin which is poisonous to their prey.

Would they make a good pet?

Although the species of salamander is quite a popular pet, these are a Critically Endangered species, and therefore it is better to watch them from a distance for their conservation, as opposed to as a Chinese giant salamander pet.

Did you know...

A Swiss physician named a fossil of these species Homo diluvii testis ('witness of the Great Flood') in 1726, assuming it was the fossil of a human who survived the Great Flood.

Also, a baby salamander is not looked after by their mothers but their fathers.

The Chinese giant salamander is important in protecting the freshwater ecosystem and biodiversity. This is key for freshwater resources in China.

How do Chinese giant salamanders protect their eggs?

Males keep an eye on their eggs to ensure that they mature properly. This is accomplished by tail-fanning, tossing them, and swallowing the unfertilized eggs. The dominant activity is tail-fanning, which is performed to maximize water flow and the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, all of which are essential for proper embryo development.

What are the predators of the Chinese giant salamander?

The predators of these species are humans who hunt them extensively for their meat which is considered a luxury food item in China. In the last 70 years, this practice, combined with habitat destruction and water population has resulted in a sharp population decline as a result of which several projects have emerged for the immediate conservation of these animals. The natural Chinese giant salamander predators are the other large members of their species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other amphibians including Caiman lizard, or African bullfrog.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Chinese Giant Salamander coloring pages.

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