The creature emblazoned on the front of this mug is a species of aquatic giant salamander endemic to Appalachia known as the Eastern Hellbender
The Eastern Hellbender has a flat body and head with slimy skin and dorsal eyes. They can weigh up to 5 pounds and grow to be over 24 inches long, making it the third largest aquatic salamander in the world.
Hellbenders inhabit areas with large, intermittent, irregularly shaped rocks within swift water. Rivers and streams that are common in the Boone area. Help these animals by not moving or stacking rocks while you play in the rivers. <3
About 60 years ago researchers noted the hellbender’s range was rapidly shrinking as a result of modification of stream habitats. Among the threats to stream habitats are the accumulation of silt, agricultural and industrial pollution, warming waters, as well as the channelization and impoundment of streams and rivers.
Hellbenders breathe primarily through their skin and rely on cool, well-oxygenated, flowing water. The construction of dams stops swift water flow, resulting in warmer temperatures and lower oxygen levels.