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Brandon Ballengée and Stanley K. Sessions, Hellbender/ Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis

Brandon Ballengée and Stanley K. Sessions, Hellbender/ Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis

2002/2003
Unique IRIS print on watercolour paper

The Hellbender or Allegheny Alligator is the largest amphibian in North America and reaches lengths of 29 inches! It is a long-lived (30 years) slow developing aquatic species sometimes confused with Mudpuppies. Unlike the Mudpuppy, Hellbenders only have gills as larvae while as adults they absorb oxygen through loose flaps of thick, wrinkled skin, which run laterally along either side of the animal. In New York, the Hellbender is found solely in the Susquehanna and Allegheny River drainages, including their associated tributaries. Hellbenders require swift running, well oxygenated, unpolluted streams and rivers with many large rocks that they use for hiding and reproduction. Hellbenders in New York State breed in autumn and early winter producing several hundred Ping-Pong ball sized eggs. The male stays with the eggs until hatching, which can take up to two months. Hellbender populations maybe declining because of siltation of streams from agricultural practices and construction, damming of streams and rivers and aquatic pollutants. The Hellbender has been listed as a Special Concern species of New York State since 1983.

Image dimensions: 376 × 640 pixels