LEXINGTON, Ky., April 14 (UPI) — Eastern hellbender salamanders are being surveyed for the first time in Kentucky to determine where they are on the decline.
Gregg Lipps, an Ohio herpetologist who is conducting the survey for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said the salamander’s numbers appear to be shrinking throughout its range, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. It is listed as an endangered species in Ohio.
Lipps began by searching records to determine where hellbenders have been found in the past in Kentucky. Then he and his team moved on in July 2008 to dogged fieldwork.
“The plan of attack has been to visit all of these places,” Lipps said. “And the survey technique is just extremely labor intensive. I always like to tell people there’s no rock too big for a hellbender, only rocks you can’t lift.”
The hellbender, native to North America, is one of the world’s largest salamanders. Adults have been found measuring 29 inches from snout to tail.
The salamander is also known for its ugliness. One common name is the snot otter because of its habit of spraying mucus.
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