The Chinese giant salamander is the largest living amphibian in the world. It is sometimes called a "living fossil” because of its age and its size. It can grow up to 6 feet long! The Chinese giant salamander lives underwater but doesn’t have any gills. Instead, the amphibian absorbs oxygen through its porous skin. The species is nocturnal, has tiny eyes, and uses its sense of smell to locate prey.
These salamanders can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, and a new discovery has proved that they can live for hundreds of years. The species is heavily built with a flat and broad head and a truncated snout. They typically breed from August to September, and they usually live in underwater hollows and spend their whole lives in the water.
The Chinese giant salamander used to be widespread in southwestern and southern China, but because of a combination of over-hunting and habitat destruction, this giant creature is now almost extinct. According to The International Union for Conservation of Nature, the giant salamander is currently critically endangered, as they have experienced more than an 80 percent decline in their population over the last 45 years. Oh no! Someone please save the salamanders!
Because they are now a rare species, a Chinese giant salamander is now typically hard to find in the wild, despite their size. Two years ago a fisherman found one that was more than 200 years old. Because most usually live to be around 55 years old on average, you could consider this to be a historic event. According to local media reports, a fisherman was in a remote cave called the karst cave in the city of Chongqing in southwest China when he discovered the giant creature after stepping on something “soft and slimy.”
The giant salamander was more than 4.5 feet long and weighed more than 100 pounds. Damn, that is one big amphibian! Scientists believe that the salamander was more than two centuries old when they found it.
The fact that this creature was 200 years old is very unusual. Most other members of the species have an average lifespan of 80 years in the wild and 55 years in captivity. Because they believe that the animal is more than 200 years old, this would also make it one of the oldest living animals on Earth.
After the discovery, scientists transferred the giant salamander to a special facility so they could study it further and so they could keep it protected. You can watch a video that was released by the Chinese media that shows the rubbery oversized creature.
They were over-hunted because the Chinese giant salamander is considered to be a luxury food item. It is also used in traditional medicines. The skin of the creature is believed to have anti-aging benefits for humans.
Because they are so slow, they are really easy to hunt. Hunters catch the salamanders in nets and over the years they have been killed in droves, bringing them to near extinction. They are now a protected species. Let's hope our old friend Carl stays safe, protected, and happy in his new home!