hellbenders facts for kids

Overview of Hellbender the Giant salamander

Hellbender or the (Cryptobranchusalleganiensis are one of the Giant Salamander species.

These aquatic animals are native to the eastern and central United States and are also called American Salamanders.

They are beneficial contributors to their ecosystems. Hellbenders are known to be around for more than 150 million years now.

However, lately, there is a high decline in their population.

  • Species: C. alleganiensis
  • Genus:Cryptobranchus; Leuckart, 1821
  • Other Name(s): Hellbender salamander, mud devil, devil dog, snot otter
  • Found in: Eastern United States
  • Length (including tail): 12 to 29 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 to 5.5 lb.
  • Family: Cryptobranchidae
  • Conservation Status: Near Threatened

There are two subspecies of Giant Hellbenders.

  • The Eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchusalleganiensisalleganiensis)
  • The Ozark hellbender (Cryptobranchusalleganiensisbishopi)

The Ozark Hellbenders have dusky and black markings over their chin area.

However, the Eastern Hellbernders lack those markings. Ozark Hellbenders are also comparatively smaller than Eastern Hellbenders and are weightless.

Common Facts about Hellbenders

Here are some facts about the American Hellbenders:

  1. American Hellbenders lives in fast-flowing river bank streams.
  2. Their skin looks Patchy reddish-brown and is quite slimy.
  3. They are carnivorous and prey on small fishes, mosquito larvae, crayfish and insects.
  4. They litter 150 to 200 eggs on average.
  5. American Hellbenders possesses main threat from Big Fishes and Reptiles.

Hellbenders as Pets (Tank Setup)

Can I keep a Hellbender in the tank?

Yes, you can keep them in tanks but Along with setting an aquarium or tank, you will require several other additions.

These add-ons may include stream simulators, stones, several oxygen stones (Airstone).

Make sure the aquarium does not have a reflective bottom or excessive light.
Both of these can cause Hellbender panic or freak out.

Also, either uses an aquarium chiller or refill the aquarium with ice-cold water daily.

Interesting Hellbender Facts for Kids

There are some fun and interesting Hellbender facts for kids. Let’s figure out if you know any.

Play a game and mark your score out of 16 at the end of the Facts list. So, shall we begin?

Hellbenders are the largest salamanders in North America. They are also the third-largest Salamanders in the world (after Chinese and Japanese Salamanders).

However, when we talk about Giant Salamanders, Hellbenders are the smallest almost them.

Giant Salamander Facts For Kids
An Eastern Hellbender foraging for crayfish on the bottom of the creek.
But do you know? Their subspecies, ‘Ozark hellbender’, are absolutely weightless.

20 Amazing Hellbender Facts

Hellbenders Fact #1

The Hellbenders are the fourth-largest living amphibians in the world.

Hellbenders Fact #2

American Hellbenders can grow up to two feet and can weigh up to 5.5lbs.

Hellbenders Fact #3

Giant Salamanders aka Hellbenders have several weird aliases, nicknames includes

  • Mud-devil
  • Snot otter
  • Devil dog
  • Mud dog
  • Allegheny alligator
  • Grampus

Hellbenders Fact #4

American Hellbenders are very slow growers. They reach their sexual maturity in 5 to 8 years.

Hellbenders Fact #5

A Hellbender in Wild may live up to 50 years. But in captivity, their age can increase in numbers.

Hellbenders Fact #6

Their IUCN conservation status is ‘Near Threatened’. Their subspecies ‘Ozark’ is listed as Endangered in the USA.

Hellbenders Fact #7

According to researches, only 590 Ozark Hellbenders are remaining in the wild. All of them are spread out among three rivers (isolated mainly). They are even lesser in a number of captives.

Hellbenders Fact #8

Hellbender have small eyes located on the top of their heads though they can see from their entire body.

Hellbenders Fact #9

There are several light-sensitive cells over their body (especially the tail). However, their sight lacks in forming clear images.

Hellbenders Fact #10

These are crayfish-eating specialists, and about 90% of their diet is dependent on crayfish.

Hellbenders Fact #11

For hunting, they use their sense of smell lateral line system (LLS) to detect vibration and movement in the water.

Hellbenders Fact #12

They have lungs; however, Hellbenders breathe from their wrinkly skin. Along the side of their body, they have several folds, which help in extracting oxygen from water.

Hellbenders Fact #13

You will get surprised to know that Hellbenders use their lungs for buoyancy control.

Hellbenders Fact #14

Even though Hellbenders can swim, they still choose to walk underwater.

Hellbenders Fact #15

Their paws have rough pads that ensure extra traction and let them walk without getting slipped.

Hellbenders Fact #16

They are solitary amphibians, and outside breeding/ mating, you will rarely find two Hellbenders mixing along. They often slide under rocks and only come out during night hours for hunting.

Hellbenders Fact #17

Like several other amphibians, Hellbender mate through external fertilization.

Hellbenders Fact #18

Unlike other salamanders, Hellbenders cannot regrow their limbs.

Hellbenders Fact #19

The name Hellbender is quite weird, and it means a reckless or headstrong person.

Hellbenders Fact #20

Do you know? Even though Hellbenders won’t attack you in general, but if done, their teeth can break through human skin. Still, they aren’t poisonous for you.


We hope you have at least crossed the score of 10/20. No? Don’t worry, you learned several new and interesting things today.

For Further Reading

FAQ’S Hellbender Facts for kids

Are Hellbender salamanders poisonous?

No American Hellbenders are not poisonous. Contrary to popular belief, Scientists have found that regardless Hellbenders can break through human skin, they aren’t poisonous.

What can I feed to my pet Hellbender?

Some great food options for Hellbenders include hellgrammites, crayfish, and stonefly larva. Though do make sure that anything you feed them is no longer than the distance between their eyes.

Is it easy to keep Hellbender as a pet?

Yes, you can keep a Hellbender in a tank but raising them as a pet this way is quite challenging.

Can hellbenders survive outside water?

No, Hellbenders are completely aquatic, and thus it is difficult for them to survive outside water.

Are Hellbenders aggressive?

Hellbenders are usually quiet introverts, and you will barely find two of them chilling together. Though if you encounter them together out of their mating season, these individuals can get violent.

How big can a Hellbender grow?

As an adult, they can capably reach up to 2.5 feet. Though commonly, they are confined from 11 to 24 inches.

Which is the largest American Salamander?

Eastern Hellbender is notedly the largest Salamander in the United States.

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