View Full Version : Seeing hellbenders in the wild

30th November 2006, 17:23
I've been passively surveying several steams (primarily in KY) for hellbenders. However, every Thanksgiving my family rents a cabin in the Smokies and I usually spend an entire day looking for various salamanders throughout the park...Seeing hellbenders in the wild has always been high on my list of caudate priorities.

Anyway, I've been looking for hellbenders in Abrams Creek the past two years with no luck. Frustrated due to the appearance of the stream looking like good habitat, I broke down and aked a park ranger about potential areas to view these guys.

The ranger was very informative and pointed out several creeks via map that he had personally seen them in. He went on to explain that the probable reason for me not finding them in Abrams was due to the fact that they had poisoned all the rough fish in that stream with rotenone back in the late 50's to make way for rainbow trout! Inadvertantly this probably killed off existing populations of hellbenders in Abrams Creek!

So, that seems to be a plausible explaination as to why I haven't found any when exploring this particular stream.

Some potential good news is they're considering restocking Abrams with hellbenders in the near future...This information was gleened from a book on Amphibians of the Smokies that I picked up at the visitor center. Not sure about the author(s), but it's a recent book and a very nice one at that.

I typically do day searches with waders lifting large rocks between riffles and checking our what's underneath. Afterward I place the rock in it's previous position as best as possible. A few night searches with headlamps and waders.

No luck in the KY streams I've checked out either (Harrods Creek, Curry Creek). Hopefully one day...

30th November 2006, 18:19
Hi Justin,

I would suggest not lifting hide areas in the months of Aug-Nov as this may disturb nests and brooding males.


19th December 2006, 06:46
Hi Justin,

I changed your thread title from "Interesting" to "Seeing hellbenders in the wild" because a thread title should convey something more concrete as to what the thread's about, at least the name of the species it concerns http://www.caudata.org/forum/clipart/wink.gif

Do please post some photos here when you do find any hellbenders! http://www.caudata.org/forum/clipart/biggrin.gif