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Salamander, Chinese Giant

Chinese Giant Salamander at the LA Zoo LAIR Photo Credit Tad Motoyama

Scientific Name: Andrias davidianus

The Chinese giant salamander is the largest salamander, and the largest amphibian, in the world.

The Chinese giant salamander is a member of the Cryptobranchidae family, which includes species of salamanders commonly referred to as giant salamanders. The Chinese giant salamander is the largest salamander, and the largest amphibian, in the world; however other giant salamander species can be found in the United States and in Japan.

Blind as a…Salamander?

Chinese giant salamanders have very poor eyesight. To catch their prey, the salamanders instead use a set of sensory nodes that run the length of their body, which allows them to sense minute vibrations in the water around them and which in turn tells them the location of their prey.

Chinese giant salamanders are listed as critically endangered by the IUCN red list. The species has suffered significant habitat loss, habitat pollution, and is often poached for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

The Chinese giant salamander is found in central, south-western and southern China. Although its habitats are greatly fragmented today, the species is most commonly found in fast-flowing, cold water streams and lakes of China’s mountains. They are most notably found in the basins of the Yangzte, Pearl, and Yellow rivers, particularly in shallow pools with plentiful vegetation. The salamanders spend their entire lives in the water.

The Chinese giant salamander feeds on insects, frogs, crabs and fish.

The Chinese giant salamander is known for its small lid-less eyes, big flat head, and dark wrinkly skin (which can range from dark brown to black to greenish colors). Individuals in the wild have been recorded up to 5.9 ft long; however the average Chinese giant salamander measures closer to 3.7 feet long. On average, the species weighs between 55 and 66 lbs.

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