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Herps of SC/GA

Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

species photo range map: SC and GArange map: eastern US

With the exception of the sirens and amphiumas, which may grow longer, the hellbender is the largest and most robust salamander in North America. The hellbender is stout, with a broad, flattened head, four well-developed limbs, no external gills, and loose skin with pronounced folds along the sides of the body. The eyes are small and the tail is flattened. Hellbenders vary in coloration, but most are brown to reddish, mottled to match the rocks of the streams they inhabit.

Hellbenders are characteristically mountain species and are found in cold, fast-flowing streams and rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. In our region they are found only in the far northern sections of Georgia and northwestern South Carolina. Hellbenders are most often found hiding under large rocks in streams but may actively forage along the stream bottom for crayfish and other prey. They are frequently caught by fishermen and many subsequently killed. Hellbenders have declined in many regions due to degradation (particularly siltation and pollution) of stream habitats.

species photo
species photo

Salamanders of SC and GA
Reptiles and Amphibians of SC and GA
SREL Herpetology