Detroit Zoo Amphibians

Japanese giant salamander

At the Detroit Zoo
Our Japanese giant salamanders – two males (Bob and Dieter) and two females (Hetsu and Helga) – arrived in 1999 from Japan's Asa Zoo where they were captive bred from wild-caught parents. Hetsu is shy and often looks to Bob for comfort. Her shyness notwithstanding, she can be pushy at times and will keep Bob out of the cave when she wants to be alone. Bob is anything but shy and will often provide a show for guests so they can get a glimpse of the inside of his massive mouth and tiny teeth.  The Japanese giant salamanders can be seen at the award-winning National Amphibian Conservation Center – a leader in amphibian conservation and research – which houses a spectacular diversity of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.  When it opened, The Wall Street Journal dubbed it “Disneyland for toads”.


The second largest salamander in the world, it can reach more than 4 feet in length and weigh as much as 88 pounds. Its skin is a mixture of grey, black and white, and is heavily wrinkled. This species has an elongated body, a long broad tail and two pairs of legs that are similar in size. The eyes are small and positioned on top of the broad, flat head.


Scientific name: Andrias japonicus
Continent: Asia
Habitat: Large rivers and small tributary streams in Japan
Size: Up to 6 feet long
Weight: Up to 90 pounds
Diet: Fish, mice and other small invertebrates
Reproduction: Occurs in late August where hundreds of salamanders will gather. Males will fight with one another to fertilize the eggs the females lay and then protect the eggs from fish and other threats.
Lifespan: Some have lived 55 years in captivity.
Conservation Status: Near threatened




Its small eyes make the salamander rely on its other sense to hunt.

It can go weeks without eating, if necessary.