The Japanese giant salamander, aka Ōsanshōuo (pepper fish), is the second largest salamander in the world, after the Chinese giant salamander. These giants inhabit the fast flowing rocky streams of Japan. They like highland mountainous regions but have also been found on some smaller south Japanese islands. Due to habitat destruction, at the hands of dams, and invasive species, these amazing creatures are now listed as Near Threatened; and their populations are decreasing. Enjoy my 800th critter article! More to come…
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Andrias japonicus
Weight: Up to 80 lbs.
Length: Up to 5 feet, including their tail
Lifespan: Up to 70 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) These salamanders have but a single lung. However, it is mainly used for buoyancy as they respirate (breathe) primarily through their skin.
2.) The folds in their wrinkly skin assist in creating more surface area in which to help oxygenate their body.
3.) Like so many other salamanders, these critters have amazing regenerative capabilities and can regrow lost extremities, like digits, their tail, internal organs, and more.
4.) They prey on fish, crayfish, insects, snails, and small mammals.
5.) Due to their slow metabolic rate, these salamanders can go weeks without food, if need be.
But wait, there’s more on the Japanese giant salamander!
6.) Japanese giant salamanders have poor eyesight. So they rely instead on special sensory cells that cover their skin, much like a lateral line in a fish. These sensory cells pick up minute vibrations of their prey and assist in hunting.
7.) In late August, mature adults go upstream into the mountain areas to spawn and lay their eggs. Large males, known as denmasters, guard their den to keep the eggs safe.
Did you know…?
When threatened or stressed, the Japanese giant salamander will excrete a milky, sticky, foul smelling substance that smells of Japanese peppers. This is meant to thwart attacks, as it is mildly toxic.
8.) Males will fan the eggs with their tail in order to increase oxygenation.
9.) Smaller rival males will often try to enter the den to fertilize the eggs. The denmaster’s job is to chase them away, to ensure the offspring are his.
10.) Larvae are born with gills that are absorbed as they reach adulthood.
Now a Short Japanese Giant Salamander Video!
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