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The Japanese Giant Salamander

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Behold the Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias japonicus), the “giant pepper fish” or Ōsanshōuo that can excrete a strong peppery smell when threatened. They are the largest living amphibian in Japan and the second largest salamander in the world.

How giant is the Japanese Giant Salamander? The National Zoo lists these primeval-looking amphibians at around 55 pounds (25 kg) and 5 feet (1.52 meters) long. Via AmphibiaWeb:

The Japanese Giant Salamander is endemic to Japan, where it is found in the Chubu, Kinki and Chugoku regions of central and western Honshu, in Shikoku and in northeastern Kyushu…

The salamander occurs in habitats ranging from relatively large rivers (20-50 m wide) to small tributary streams (1-4 m wide), with clear cool water flowing through granite and schist regions. These streams have usually rocky or gravel bottoms, and at places shallow, quietly running water. The animals keep themselves concealed in rocky caverns or in burrows on the water’s edge…

The salamanders are entirely aquatic and nocturnal. They feed on fresh-water crabs, fish, small amphibians… and additionally on aquatic insects and small mammals… The Japanese Giant Salamander is extremely long lived. A specimen in the Amsterdam Zoo lived for 52 years…

Next, the largest salamander in the world: The Chinese Giant Salamander.

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