Western New York Hosts Rare Salamanders

08.22.13 | Bob Price

Some of the world’s largest salamanders, once a rare sight in New York state, are squirming anew in upstate streams with the help of the Bronx Zoo. Also known as "snot otters," "devil dogs" and "Allegheny alligators," eastern hellbenders can be found underneath rocks in swift-flowing streams. They have flat reddish-brown heads and bodies and slimy, wrinkly skin. The zoo released 38 eastern hellbender salamanders into the wild this month, along with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Buffalo Zoo. The salamanders can grow up to 2 feet long and live their entire lives underwater in parts of western New York, but their populations are shrinking, due to disease, pollution and habitat destruction.They are being released into the Allegheny River, the same place the amphibians were gathered as eggs. Before being released into the river, which crosses into Pennsylvania near Salamanca, the animals were tagged with a microchip that identifies them for future research.