Cryptobranchus alleganiensis (State Status: S1; critically imperiled)


Hellbenders are large stream-dwelling salamanders found in the eastern US. Its range extends to the extreme northeast reach of Mississippi. They are brown, wrinkly-skinned, with flattened heads. Unlike the large amphiumas, hellbenders have fully developed limbs. Habitat loss and watershed modification may be negatively affecting populations. There are various captive breeding programs and protected land in support of the conservation of this salamander.

Eastern Hellbender, © Kevin Hutcheson

Identifying Traits

  • Large brown body with skin folds (wrinkled appearance)
  • Flattened head

Subspecies Present:

Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis)


Clear, flowing streams with rock cover (Powell et al., 2016)



Ambush suction predator, streambed rocks for cover and reproduction (Petranka, 1998)


Various small invertebrates and fish (ambush feeder)

Eastern Hellbender, © Kevin Hutcheson
Eastern Hellbender, © Kevin Hutcheson