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Breeding Hellbenders

“Snot otter,” a “devil dog,” or a “mud devil” are all nicknames for the largest salamander in North America—the Hellbender. Despite its colorful name, the Hellbender doesn’t want to bother you, it just wants to survive—and that’s the problem. Hellbenders are dying for unknown reasons but some pioneering researchers at the Nashville Zoo are trying to change that. Wild Side Guide Alan Griggs shows us how experts from around the world are trying to save one of the most unique aquatic animals on earth.

While researchers are initially encouraged with their findings, there is much work to be done before the Hellbender is out of danger. Whether its problems are caused by man, nature or a combination of each, the salamander’s uncertain fate serves as a graphic reminder that life is a delicate balance.

Remember, if you are a fisherman and you happen to catch a Hellbender in Tennessee, please release it and notify the Nashville Zoo.