The Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) is a massive amphibian that exists exclusivey in Japan, from the western regions of mainland Honshu to both Shikoku and Kyushu. The Japanese giant salamander is indigenous to the eastern Asian nation, and is one of the biggest amphibian species in existence.
Vision isn't a strong suit for Japanese giant salamanders. They possess very small eyes; thankfully, they don't depend too much on them. In order to track down prey, Japanese giant salamanders utilize very small sensory nodules on their heads and along the sides of their bodies -- from top to bottom. The nodes, which resemble small patches of hair, are capable of picking up subtle vibrations in the vicinity, alerting the Japanese giant salamander to the presence of other animals, whether crabs, fish or anything else that is part of his typical diet.
The Japanese giant salamander diet consists predominantly of fish, bugs, crabs, mice and frogs. In some situations, these salamanders also dine on fellow salamanders that are smaller than them. Japanese giant salamanders aren't too finicky about sustenance. The amphibians possess extremely slow-moving metabolisms, and because of that they are capable of going for several weeks at a time with absolutely no feeding.
The Japanese giant salamander is considered to be a "near threatened" species by the IUCN Red List, as of 2004. The population danger is a result of the species' reliance on streams that are continuously being affected by a variety of factors, including dams. The natural habitat of the Japanese giant salamander is made up of mountains and streams with rapid moving waters.
In terms of body length, fully mature Japanese giant salamanders often grow to around five feet, according to Conservation International. However, they are still not as big as the Chinese giant salamander, an amphibian species very strongly linked to them. Chinese giant salamanders can reach a length of around six feet. Typical weight for the Japanese giant salamander is roughly 55 pounds, indicates the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.
The coloration of Japanese giant salamanders is often either yellowish-brown, reddish-brown, entirely brown or black, and some are much darker or lighter than others. These flat-bodied salamanders usually possess splotchy patterns all over the skin.
The breeding season for the Japanese giant salamander commences toward the latter portion of the summer. During the autumn, female salamanders lay somewhere in the ballpark of 400 to 500 eggs. Mating occurs inside dens within the streams, which the male salamanders establish beforehand.
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Andrias japonicus
- AmphibiaWeb: Andrias japonicus
- Smithsonian National Zoological Park: Japanese Giant Salamander
- Toledo Zoo: Japanese Giant Salamander
- San Antonio Zoo: Japanese Giant Salamanders
- Conservation International: A Monster Opportunity
- IUCN Red List: Andrias japonicus
- Chad Baker/Photodisc/Getty Images