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Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensisCryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis is the largestNorth American salamander ranging in length from 305 to 74 cmNiering 1985 Eastern Hellbenders are members of the order oftailed amphibians Caudata and the family CryptobranchidaeAlong with C a bishopi the Ozark Hellbender it is one of thetwo subspecies of hellbenders also known as the AlleghenyC a alleganiensis is perennially aquatic preferring clearfast-moving rivers or large streams with rocky bottoms Most are found in water 12 to 46 cm deep and tend to avoid areas withthick layers of silt Hillis and Bellis 1971 It ranges fromthe Susquehanna River and its tributaries in New York andPennsylvania to the Ohio River and its tributaries including theAllegheny which gives it its species name westward to theMississippi River and southward to Missouri Arkansas andGeorgia It has also been recorded in Iowa Bishop 1943 C a alleganiensis has a dorsoventrally flattened body anda laterally flattened tail The tail is the main means oflocomotion but the hellbender can also crawl when seeking refugeHillis and Bellis 1971 C a alleganiensis is dark gray orolive-brown with a mottled or spotted pattern on its dorsalsurface The ventral surface is a lighter shade with fewmarkings Niering 1985 The male and female are similar inappearance but the male is broader and heavier than a female ofthe same length Eyelids are absent It has five toes on itshind feet and four on the fore feet most of which develop duringC a alleganiensis is nocturnal spending its days hidingunder rocks with only the tip of its broad head exposed Itexhibits diurnal behavior only during its mating season whichoccurs in late summer or early fall depending on geographicC a alleganiensis practices external fertilization Themale will dig a saucer-shaped nest-like cavity beneath a largeflat rock or sunken log The female lays 200-500 yellowish eggsin long strings The male assumes a mating position above orbehind the female and sprays the eggs The male will then remainin the area to guard the nest Niering 1985
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