Japanese Giant Salamander

Photo: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
August 11, 2010
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Photo: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Japanese giant salamanders, Andrias japonicus, can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 55 pounds. They live in cold, fast-flowing streams in Japan and eat a variety of prey, including fish, smaller salamanders, worms, insects, crayfish and snails—catching them with a rapid sideways snap of the mouth. The animals keep themselves concealed under large rocks along the water’s edge. Like other amphibians, this salamander has smooth skin that acts as a respiratory surface where oxygen enters the body and carbon dioxide is released. Japanese giant salamanders are listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.