Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 62.djvu/537

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HABITS OF THE GIANT SALAMANDER.

531

nearly all of large size, were put into a wooden box (12 in. 9 in. 6 in. in size) in which numerous small holes had been bored and were taken from western Pennsylvania to Baltimore, Maryland. Although confined in such small space for a continuous period of nineteen hours, they reached the end of their journey in perfect condition. On another occasion fifteen of these same animals were put into the same box and taken by rail to a distant city; on this occasion they were in the box continuously for twenty-five hours, and one individual died on the journey, apparently suffocated by the mass of disgorged liver that filled its mouth. I had purposely refrained from feeding them for several days previous to the journey, but their fast had not been sufficiently long and the undigested liver was all disgorged, apparently causing, as has been said, the death of one individual.

Although possessed of such tenacity of life their recovery from wounds is apparently slow, a wound in the head of one large specimen remaining raw and open for several months. Possibly in its natural environment recovery would have been more rapid.

My chief aim, as I have said, in working with Cryptobranchus, being to obtain embryological material, I enquired of every fisherman and countryman I met, and of many other people as well, concerning the breeding habits of this little-studied animal. The only facts of any sort that I could learn were obtained from Mr. C. H. Townsend, whom I shall again quote. He says in the article mentioned above: "During their confinement in the tub two of the females deposited a large amount of spawn. This spawn was something similar to frog spawn in its general appearance, but the mass had not the dark colors of the latter. The ova were exuded in strings and were much farther apart than frog eggs. They were of a yellow color, while the glutinous mass which connected them had a grayish appearance." This deposition of spawn, he says, took place in August. Had I had this information earlier in the season it would have saved me many fruitless attempts to capture the hellbenders, and possibly my efforts to obtain their eggs might have been successful. As it was I did not get a single egg, the animals refusing to spawn in captivity, though they were kept in a large tank of running water under conditions as near like their natural habitat as I could make them.

Ovaries examined during the first two months showed a gradual development, but those examined during the early part of September showed evident signs of degeneration. All of the individuals killed, except one or two, were females. It would seem that hellbenders, like some other amphibia, will not spawn in captivity if removed from their natural environment too long before their natural breeding season.[1]


  1. The author has in preparation a paper on the anatomy and histology of Cryptobranchus, which lie hopes to have ready for publication in a few months.