Virginia Tech professor unlocks new understanding of giant salamander

Published: Jul. 20, 2023 at 4:40 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - There is research underway at Virginia Tech that is unlocking clues to help protect a type of giant salamander called the hellbender.

These amphibians can be found in creeks and streams in Southwest Virginia, but their populations have been declining for decades.

Virginia Tech Professor Dr. Bill Hopkins joined Here @ Home to explain more about how environmental changes are causing hellbenders to hurt their own offspring.

Hellbender(Jordy Groffen)

Hopkins described hellbenders as doting fathers with males taking care of their young for about eight months. However, through his studies, Hopkins uncovered new details that show when environmental factors stress out the animal, those fathers will begin eating their own offspring.

Hopkins said this information is just one step forward to better develop conservation efforts and help this giant salamander and the other wildlife in the region.