Shy Salamander Is on the Most Wanted List by Georgia Wildlife Authorities


Attention Georgia outdoors lovers: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources asks that you be on the lookout for Cryptobranchus Alleganiensis, AKA, grampus, water dog, snot ottter and Georgia hellbender, a shy long-tailed salamander which poses absolutely no harm to you or the public. The subjects were most recently seen in cold, fast-flowing streams in North Georgia, and may be hiding under rocks.
Georgia DNR is asking for help from outdoor lovers in reporting on the at-risk hellbender, found in cold, fast-moving streams in the state.Graphic: DeanLand / Our Travel Cafe; Photo: Georgia DNR

If spotted, Georgia's DNR asks that you keep a reasonable distance, do not disturb the amphibian of interest, take a photo, and file an immediate report with the agency. Georgia DNR asks that you e-mail details on the sighting – day, time, place and estimated size of the salamander – to the Department of Natural Resources.

The most recent description of the subjects indicates they are dark gray or brown, with irregular dark spots along the back, according to the National Wildlife Foundation. They are described as having a flat head, wrinkled body, paddle-shaped tail, and a face that only a mother, nature lover or another love-struck snot otter could appreciate. Adults are typically around 20 inches in length and weight three to four pounds.

Hellbenders are considered "threatened" by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, largely because of habitat loss. The agency also is concerned that some environmental factor may be affecting hellbender reproduction, as more adults are found in the wild than juveniles. The species is not protected under any federal recognitions, though several organizations like Wild South have promoted campaigns for federal protection, including Wild South.

As to the unusual set of names for this rare species, no one is sure how they came about. Multiple sources say the name hellbender was tagged because the amphibians " looked like they crawled out of hell and are bent on going back.” They are also called “mud cats,” “devil dogs” and “snot otters” — likely named for the mucus they secrete through their skin when threatened.

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I'm a trained journalist and retired global marketing executive. Living in Northwest Georgia, I write about about avocations including outdoors, travel, exploration, history and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries. My South Louisiana-born French Cajun upbringing in food-rich Louisiana plus my extended restaurant-related career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. At my blog,, I offer a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

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