Japanese Giant Salamander

posted: 03/18/14
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Japanese Giant Salamander
Erica Wilson/Icon Films
See MoreJapanese Giant Salamander Pictures, Diving for Monsters (video), Japanese Giant Salamander (video), Fish With Arms and Hands? (video)

Maximum Length:

Almost 5 feet

Maximum Weight:

Up to 65 pounds

Oldie But Goodie:

At almost 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length, the Japanese giant salamander resides in streams and rivers on Kyushu Island and western Honshu in Japan. The only thing scary about this creature is its looks. Its skin color is mottled gray, black and cream, and its body is covered in mucus to protect him from parasites and from injury. One of the world's two largest salamanders (the other is the Chinese salamander), conservationists have named the Japanese giant salamander a special "natural monument" in Japan.

Not Hungry Tonight:

Japanese giant salamanders are drawn to clear, cold water and spend most of their days lounging underneath rocks. They are most active at night, relying on their senses of smell and touch to find food because of their limited sight. Eating isn't a priority to these creatures because of their slow metabolisms, so they can go for weeks without nourishment if they need to. But when they do eat, it's a sight to see: They catch fish, smaller salamanders, worms, insects, crayfish and snails with a rapid sideways snap of the mouth.

Men at Work:

The males of this species play an active role in caring for the Japanese giant salamander's young. In late August, they gather at spawning pits to fight (sometimes to the death) for the right to occupy them and breed with the females, which can lay anywhere from 400 to 500 eggs at a time. The males guard and protect the nesting pits and watch the eggs for 12 to 15 weeks in early spring until they hatch, all the while making sure that fish, predators and other salamanders stay far away.

Jeremy Wade's Tips for Catching a Giant Salamander:

"Because the salamander is an amphibian, I didn't use fishing gear. I just went in there and "noodled" it, using my bare hands to grab it by the tail."

For the full story, watch Jeremy Wade's How to Catch a Giant Salamander.

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