In the midst of climate change and global warming affecting all the endangered species, here’s another one to add to the list- scientists have now observed a decline in the numbers of North America’s largest salamander and the third largest salamander species in the world in nearly 16 Eastern states.
The disappearance of the salamander could be pointing out to a decline in the quality of the rivers and streams it is found in as believed by the scientists.
“If nothing else, if people don’t appreciate the animal for itself, that it has value to the world, then it can serve as a messenger,” Trisha Crabill, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, explained. “It can tell us what’s going on in the river.”
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia are the locations where salamander is usually found.
According to AP, the Ozark hellbender, which can only be found in Missouri and Arkansas, was added to the federal endangered species list back in 2011 when its numbers declined to approximately 75 percent between the 1970s and the 1990s.
The eastern salamander should also be added to the list is being currently decided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“There’s nothing else like them in North America,” said federal biologist Jeromy Applegate, who’s leading the eastern hellbender assessment.
Rivers and streams are where these nocturnal creatures reside. Taking oxygen from water, they are able to breathe almost entirely through their skin. These salamanders leave large, flat stones and logs at night to find some food but spend most of their time beneath it.
Also, these salamanders mainly feed on crayfish, worms, minnows and snails.
The salamanders grow up to two feet long with weight up to five found and can live 30 or more years in the wild. According to AP, the largest snail ever seen was 2 ½ feet long.
“These are animals that live up to 30 years in the wild, so if you have populations declining, that alerts us that there could be a problem with the water quality,” Rod Williams, a Purdue University associate professor of herpetology, quoted in a statement recently.