Chinese Giant Salamander, Andrias davidianus

The Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) is a species of salamander that is native to China, although it can be found in Taiwan, where it is thought to have been introduced. It prefers to reside in streams in mountainous areas and is one of two living species within its genus, Andrias.

The Chinese giant salamander is the largest salamander species in the world, capable of reaching a body length of six feet, although it rarely reaches this length. It reaches an average body length of 3.8 feet and a weight between 55 and 66 pounds. It has wrinkly skin that is dark in color, a large head, and small eyes. This species spends most of its life underwater and has sensory nodes along its entire body, which makes up for its lack of eyesight.

After breeding, female Chinese giant salamanders will lay up to five hundred eggs in an underwater cavity, which is guarded by the male, and after fifty to sixty days, the eggs hatch. Adults consume fish, frogs, and insects and are known for its vocalizations, one of which sounds highly similar to a human infant’s cry. Because of this, it is locally known as the infant fish.

The Chinese giant salamander once held a large range in China, but habitat destruction and overhunting have decreased its habitat and population numbers. This species does reside in some protected areas and appears in the Chinese Red Book of Amphibians and Reptiles as Critically Endangered, but illegal hunting still occurs. Individuals appear in many zoos throughout the world, but it is not known if attempts to breed and reintroduce this species will increase population numbers. The Chinese giant salamander appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Critically Endangered.”

Image Caption: Andrias davidianus in Shanghai Aquarium. Credit: J. Patrick Fischer/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)