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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 05, 2021

19 Giant Salamander Facts You’ll Never Forget

Discover captivating giant salamander facts about its habitat, breeding, appearance, and much more!

Giant salamanders are massive amphibians that belong to the family Cryptobranchidae, which has the largest surviving amphibian species among its members. The largest of all giant salamander species is the South China giant salamander (Andrias sligoi), which is a member of the Andrias genus and is indigenous to eastern Asia. This particular giant salamander (Andrias sligoi) can grow to be as long as 5.9 ft (1.8 m). Another species of Andrias is the Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) that can grow up to a fascinating length of 4.7 ft (1.44 m)! These giant salamanders are completely aquatic. They are indigenous to Japan, the USA's eastern regions, and China. They are found in their native locations, only inhabiting places in the USA, Japan, and China. These species of amphibians can live for very long lifespans with one specimen in captivity living for up to 75 years! Giant salamanders feed during the night time using a special technique. Want to know how?  We suggest you keep reading to discover this special technique and find out much more about the world of giant salamanders!

If you love reading our giant salamander article, you must check out our spring salamander and spotted salamander facts as well!

Giant Salamander Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a giant salamander?

Giant salamanders are large amphibians of the family Cryptobranchidae. The body of this species has a long length, including its tail when compared to other salamanders.

What class of animal does a giant salamander belong to?

Giant salamanders belong to the class Amphibia.

How many giant salamanders are there in the world?

The wild populations of these giant salamanders have not been evaluated yet. Some species have abundant wild populations whereas some have been facing difficulties. Therefore, different species have different conservation statuses. Least Concern, Near Threatened, and Critically Endangered are the categories in which all species of giant salamanders have been classified.

Where does a giant salamander live?

A giant salamander can be found in a range of habitats in the wild. These large amphibians inhabit underground burrows, forested watersheds, temperate forests, rivers, freshwater lakes, rocky hill streams, and freshwater marshes. They can be found across the USA, Japan, and China. The south China salamander and the Chinese giant salamander can be found in China, the Japanese giant salamander can be found in Japan, and the Idaho giant salamander, Cope's giant salamander, the coastal giant salamander as well as the hellbender salamander, can be found in the regions of USA.

What is a giant salamander's habitat?

Much of this amphibian population is aquatic and inhabits fast-moving, low-depth, and cold water bodies which are rich in oxygen. They prefer the water's temperature to be 37-77 F (3-25 C). All of their dwelling locations are generally in mountainous and forested regions. These large amphibians are mostly aquatic and reside in fast-flowing chilled water. They breathe through their skin so the water must be rich with oxygen. Throughout the daytime, this species stays on the land for its own protection and also because of its shy nature. It conceals itself beneath huge rock beds that comprises pebbles as well as gravel. A giant salamander can be easily found living beneath rock crevices. They have been observed at altitudes ranging between 300-13000 ft (100-4200 m). However, nowadays they might not be seen at such high altitudes because of pollution. The populations of different species of giant salamanders that are living in aboveground water bodies, in the wild, are more exposed to the possibility of being poached than populations that exist under rocks.

Who do giant salamanders live with?

Giant salamanders are solitary creatures that live alone. They only come out of their safe underground burrows to mate with a suitable partner, who lives in the same den (underwater cavity) as them. A male (also referred to as the den master), does not let any other salamander into this den other than their significant females during the breeding season, except for another male occasionally.

How long does a giant salamander live?

The giant salamander can live for 75 years long!

How do they reproduce?

Giant salamanders clean the surface area of their dens and even bathe themselves at the beginning of the breeding season. The breeding season of these salamanders starts in July and lasts until October. Giant salamanders prefer a fast-flowing water body as their habitat, but their eggs are laid in the cavities of slow-moving streams. They push the gravel as well as the sand out of these cavities, giving them another name: 'sand pusher'. A cleaner den attracts a female faster and more effectively.

Males may mate with one or multiple females (they can be monogamous or polygamous), but generally, these shy animals only allow one female into their den in the underwater cavity (their burrow). They indulge in a variety of courtship rituals like mouth-to-mouth posture, living together in the same den, side-to-side behavior, rolling over, and chasing. The female lays between the range of 50-500 eggs which are fertilized by male salamanders. The oviposition (laying of eggs) by the females varies from species to species.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of all giant salamanders as per the IUCN varies from species to species. The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus), as well as the South Chinese giant salamander (Andrias sligoi), are both Critically Endangered due to hunting and habitat loss, which has resulted in a decline in their wild populations. They are also consumed by humans. The Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) and the hellbender salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) have a Near Threatened conservation status. Coastal giant salamanders, Cope's giant salamanders, and Idaho giant salamanders have a Least Concern conservation status as their wild populations are abundant. The Endangered species have been bred in captivity in recent years in a bid to increase their populations.

Giant Salamander Fun Facts

What do giant salamanders look like?

These species of amphibians have a long body including their tail. These giant animals have poor eyesight and are mainly active at the time of dusk. Their length can range up to 5.9 ft (1.9 m) with a weight range of 3.3-66 lb ( 1.5-30 kg). These amphibian species breathe through their skin and as a result, have visible gills that help them in respiration. They have short limbs and a heavily built body. Their skin can be quite rough and porous when touched. They are usually spotted and can have a skin color from a wide range of colors, namely light and dark brown, dark red, gold, black, white, purple, tan, gray, copper, or orange. They have sharp and small teeth that are present on the lower as well as the upper jaw in singular rows.

Giant salamanders have gills on their skin with flanks to expand their surface area for better respiration!

How cute are they?

These salamanders can be quite cute as they are shy and quiet animals. They cannot be harmful to humans, so they are very sweet amphibians.

How do they communicate?

These animals communicate by making whistles, barks, cries, and hisses. Their cry sounds a little like that of a baby's so they also have a common name 'baby fish' thanks to these cries. They also communicate via a variety of gestures and movements during the breeding season.

How big is a giant salamander?

Giant salamanders are quite large, being 70 times larger than minute salamanders. These large amphibians can grow up to the length of 5.9 ft (1.9 m). The largest salamander on the planet is the Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) that can grow as long as 5.9 ft (1.9 m). This giant Chinese salamander is similar to that of the third largest salamander (hellbender salamander), which reaches 29 in (74 cm). The second-largest is the giant Japanese salamander that reaches 5 ft (1.5 m).

How fast can a giant salamander move?

Their speed has not yet been evaluated yet. However, we do know that these salamanders inhabit underground cavities of fast-moving water bodies.

How much does a giant salamander weigh?

The giant salamander species have a weight range of 3.3-66 lb ( 1.5-30 kg). The heaviest species are the Japanese giant salamanders and the Chinese giant salamanders.

What are their male and female names of the species?

Male and female giant salamanders do not have specific names as per their gender.

What would you call a baby giant salamander?

A baby giant salamander is known as a juvenile salamander.

What do they eat?

This amphibian preys upon worms, insects, slugs, fish invertebrates, and small vertebrates like snakes, small rodents, even other species of giant salamanders and their eggs (in a process known as cannibalism). They use an astounding suction technique to prey on animals. Their technique is extremely powerful; they suck their prey into their mouth at the speed of a rocket-powered car! Its massive muscles help it in opening its strong jaws and producing a strong suction. These large creatures are preyed upon by large reptiles such as turtles and snakes and by some fish. They also have a defense mechanism; they emanate a toxic mucus to scare away predators.

Are they poisonous?

No, these salamanders are not poisonous but they can emanate a toxic mucus to scare away predators.

Would they make a good pet?

These animals are shy creatures and can get stressed easily. However, they have been kept in captivity in certain zoos and breeding farms. Ultimately it is best if these massive and heavy creatures are left to inhabit their wild homes. Some species of giant salamander have also been listed by the IUCN which makes it illegal to keep as a pet.

Did you know...

The massive Chinese giant salamanders are so big that they are the largest surviving amphibians on earth. They originated from an old and small cluster of salamanders that were separated approximately about 170 million years ago during the Jurassic period from their relatives.

Different types of giant salamander

There are different species of giant salamanders that inhabit different places and are native to different locations. They can be distinguished from each other by length, weight, color, spots, their breeding time frame, and their native location among many other characteristics. There are species of giant salamanders that have been classified as Least Concern, Critically Endangered, as well as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

Do giant salamanders bite?

Most salamanders do not bite or prey upon humans. However, the Idaho giant salamander's bite can easily tear a human's skin so this giant salamander is quite dangerous to humans.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these olm facts and bullfrog facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable spotted salamander coloring pages.

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