Chinese giant salamander (Andrias spp.)
Class: Amphibia — amphibians
Order: Caudata — salamanders
Family: Cryptobranchidae (Fitzinger, 1826) — giant salamanders, hellbender
Genus: Andrias (Tschudi, 1837) — giant salamanders
Species: Andrias spp.*— Chinese giant salamanders
*Yan et al. (2018), Liang et al. (2019), and Turvey et al. (2019) demonstrate that Andrias davidanus should be split into 3 or more species (names to be formalized/described). See Taxonomy.
Total Body Length
|Distribution & Status
|Behavior & Ecology
Populations in the Wild
|Reproduction & Development
Not well known; possibly polygynous (1 male, multiple females).
Age at Dispersal
Typical Life Expectancy
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© 2019 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
How to cite: Chinese Giant Salamanders (Andrias spp.) Fact Sheet. c2019. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. http://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/ chinesegiantsalamanders.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2019 Dec 31)
Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to Benjamin Tapley for providing expert content review of this fact sheet.
Ben Tapley is a conservation biologist and Curator of Reptiles and Amphibians at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL). His primary interests include the conservation breeding and captive management of amphibians. In addition to curation of ZSL's herpetology collection, he conducts research to advance the conservation of amphibian and reptile species through zoo-based breeding and husbandry programs, as well as field research on wild populations.
Mr. Tapley is part of the research team at ZSL that is spearheading efforts to protect Chinese giant salamanders in the wild, and to develop best practices for husbandry and breeding of these salamanders in managed care.
From 2013 to 2015, Mr. Tapley was part of an international team of biologists that conducted scientific surveys for Chinese giant salamanders in China. The field survey manual that resulted from this project—the first of its kind—now serves as the foundation for systematic, long-term monitoring of wild populations of Chinese giant salamanders. Mr. Tapley has also authored/co-authored several notable journal articles related to the conservation and evolution of Chinese giant salamanders (see Bibliography).
Currently, Mr. Tapley and colleagues are focused on several conservation projects: big-headed turtles in Vietnam, Chinese giant salamanders in China, mountain chicken frogs from the Caribbean, and megophryid frogs in Vietnam.
He also serves on several scientific working groups, including the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group’s Captive Breeding Working Group and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s Amphibian Taxonomy Advisory Group.
Thank you to Dr. Samuel Turvey (Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London) for reviewing the Taxonomy and Population Status sections of this fact sheet.
Thank you to Rachelrose Schneider for sharing her knowledge of giant salamander husbandry for the Managed Care section of this fact sheet.
Ms. Schneider is the primary keeper of Chinese giant salamanders at the San Diego Zoo. She has worked in animal husbandry with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance for 5 years. Her passion for amphibians and reptiles was first sparked while interning for the Zoo’s Reptiles department in 2014.
In providing care to Chinese giant salamanders, she most enjoys observing their feeding behavior and other uncommon behaviors, such as jaw stretching.