Monday, July 12, 2010

Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus)

The largest salamander in the world is the Chinese giant salamander; it is an Aquatic species, for the adaptions of the life style. Its length is up to 1.8 meters though most individuals found today are considerably smaller.

The skin is dark brown, black or greenish in color and intermittently blotched. It is also rough, crumpled and porous which facilitates respiration through the skin as this large amphibian lacks gills. This species has a stretched out body structure, and two pairs of legs which are roughly similar in size. The snout is less rounded and the tail is a little longer and broader. This salamander has tubercles on the head and throat. The Chinese species has small, paired tubercles arranged in rows parallel with the lower jaw. The eyes are tiny, with no eyelids, and positioned on top of the broad, flat head, providing the salamander with poor vision.
The Chinese giant salamander inhabits cold, fast running mountain streams and lakes, occupying hollows and cavities under water.
This giant amphibian is generally active at night, when it relies on smell and touch to locate its prey. It lives in muddy, dark rock crevices along riverbanks and feeds on fish, smaller salamanders, worms, insects, crayfish and snails, catching them with a rapid sideways snap of the mouth.

It is like other amphibians, this salamander has smooth skin that lacks scales. The moist skin acts as a respiratory surface, where oxygen enters the body and carbon dioxide is released.
This species is threatened by hunting, as its flesh is considered a delicacy in Asia. Other threats include habitat alteration and loss; deforestation causes soil erosion and increased runoff and silting in rivers. 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. Local pesticides, fertilizers and pollutants are also thought to affect the health of this amphibian, though little research has been conducted. Symptoms of these recent threats include the lower numbers of Chinese giant salamander recorded, smaller populations and also smaller individuals

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