Endangered Species of the Week: Chinese giant salamander
Species: Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus)
Status: Critically Endangered (CR)
Interesting Fact: It is the world's largest living species of amphibian!
The Chinese giant salamander can reach an amazing 1.8 metres in length, which is longer than the average human. This long lived species is entirely aquatic, and lives in underwater hollows and cavities along fast running mountain streams and rivers. Generally active at night, it relies on smell and touch to locate its prey. It feeds on fish, smaller salamanders, worms, insects, crayfish and snails, catching them with a rapid sideways snap of the mouth. Like other amphibians, the Chinese giant salamander has smooth skin that acts as a respiratory surface, where oxygen enters the body and carbon dioxide is released.
The Chinese giant salamander is threatened by hunting, as its flesh is considered a delicacy in Asia. The building of dams in China over the years has also changed the natural river flow in some areas where the Chinese giant salamander is found. It is now protected from international trade by its listing on CITES and more than 355,000 hectares of habitat have been set aside for the preservation of one of the planet's most amazing amphibians.