Chinese Giant Salamander

Chinese Giant Salamander Andrias davidianus

Type of Animal:

Rocky mountain rivers, large streams, rocky fast flowing streams, fast-flowing highland rivers, fast-flowing lakes, clear water lakes, limestone caves in riverbanks, dark muddy/rocky crevices along lake/stream banks, mountain streams, rocky dens, burrows in slow-flowing areas, forested water areas, subterranean rivers, aboveground rivers, aboveground lakes, rocky irregular stream beds w/ gravel/vegetation/small rocks, underwater hollows/cavities, shallow pools w/ plentiful vegetation in river basins, watersheds, river tributaries, prefer water temps of 37-77 F, prefer altitudes of 300-4,900 ft

Yangtze & Yellow River basins of China. Introduced to Taiwan & Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

Very large amphibian (2nd largest in world) w/ flat broad head, small eyes, dark wrinkly brown skin w/ some mottling/speckling (sometimes other brownish tones/dark reddish/blackish), very prehistoric looking

Fish, amphibians (including smaller members of own species), worms, mollusks, insects, insect larvae, crustaceans, millipedes, small mammals, reptiles, zooplankton

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, aquariums, breeding farms, & aquaculture. Beginning in 1980s, more than 14 nature reserves established for conserving species. Jing’an County Giant Salamander Research Center in NW Jiangxi province breeding them for scientific research & for aquarium exhibition.


Additional Info:

Young: Larva
Group: Solitary

55-96 lbs

2 months

Life Span:
50-80 years

Body Length:
Adult: 3.77-5 ft
Young: 1.3-1.6 ft

Tail Length:
Adult: 1.885-3 ft
Young: 0.65-0.8 ft

Only predators other giant salamanders. Fish eat eggs.
Endangered due to water pollution, overharvesting for medicine trade/meat, habitat loss, industrialization, dam construction, climate change, killing due to eating fishing catch, & release of farmed individuals introducing diseases into wild populations. While more than 2.6 million kept in farms in China, wild population less than 20,000.
Sexually mature at 5-6 years old.
Highly territorial w/ fights sometimes resulting in death.
Males have underwater breeding dens, where multiple females allowed to lay eggs (each female lays 10-500 eggs-meaning single male may be guarding thousands of eggs). These males called den masters & drive females away after laying. Males guard eggs until hatching.
They’re aquatic, only leaving water to hunt or move to other water bodies.
While permanently aquatic, larvae do lose gills. They breathe through skin.
While endangered in native range, introduced populations potentially invasive in Japan due to potentially outcompeting/eating Japanese Giant Salamanders.

Fun Fact(s):
Sometimes called “wa way yu” meaning “baby fish” due to distress call resembling baby’s cry.
It’s quite possible there may be 4 or 5 separate species-South China Giant Salamander designated as separate species in 2018.
While mostly living 50-80 years, one was found to be 200 years old.

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