A pair of two-foot long salamanders with a wide variety of aliases—snot otters, old lasagna sides, devil dogs and Allegheny alligators—are now on display at a new Bronx Zoo exhibit.
The salamanders, officially known as the Eastern hellbender, are native to freshwater streams and rivers in the eastern part of North America, and two of them have now arrived at the zoo's Reptile House.
Adults can grow up to almost two-feet long, making them the third largest species of salamander in the world, behind only the six-foot long Japanese and Chinese giant salamanders.
The animals, which are typically brown or reddish-brown, have small eyes, wrinkly skin, flattened bodies and heads, and an edge along their tails that helps propel them through the water. Their populations in the wild are declining thanks to a variety of factors, including habitat destruction and water pollution, according to the Bronx Zoo.
The zoo has been working on a program since 2009 to boost the snot otters' New York population. Staffers raise young salamanders in an off-exhibit room at the zoo and care for them until they are large enough to survive in the wild, at which point they go back to the streams where they were originally found.
The zoo released 38 salamanders into New York's Allegheny River Basin in 2013, and staffers are currently raising 103 salamanders to be released in the future.