Illegal Pet Trade, Poor Water Quality Put Ozark Hellbender at Risk

Large-scale, illegal collection of Ozark hellbender salamanders has put the species in dramatic decline, according to a report published in the journal Applied Herpetology.

Besides illegal harvesting, other factors hurting the hellbender include loss of habitat, worsening water quality, and the introduction of pharmaceuticals into the water supply, which has hurt the hellbender's already slow reproduction rate.

The giant, aquatic Ozark Hellbender salamander (which can reach an amazing two-and-a-half feet in length) is a subspecies of the species Cryptobranchus alleganiensis. All branches of the hellbender species are considered endangered or threatened.

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