Amphiumidae – Amphiumas

US native, these legless aquatic salamanders have elongated, greyish-black body

The enigmatic family of amphibians known as amphiumid salamanders, or congo eels, finds its exclusive abode in the southeastern United States, where they unveil a fascinating tapestry of unique characteristics and ecological significance. These intriguing creatures are defined by their long, slender bodies, reminiscent of eels, and an extraordinary adaptation that allows them to respire through their skin and the lining of their mouths, akin to plethodontid salamanders.

Embracing an aquatic lifestyle, amphiumid salamanders boast specialized adaptations tailored for waterways. They are endowed with gills, facilitating their respiration in aquatic environments, and possess streamlined body shapes that optimize their navigation through aquatic realms. Although they attain considerable sizes, with some species extending up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) in length, they exhibit a more slender build compared to their counterparts in the Cryptobranchidae family.

Carnivorous by nature, amphiumas play a pivotal role within their ecosystems by preying upon insects, worms, and various small invertebrates. Their carnivorous habits contribute to the regulation of insect populations, thereby impacting the delicate balance of local food webs.

Despite their ecological significance, amphiumid salamanders remain relatively obscure in the world of amphibian research. Little is known about their behavior and ecological dynamics, casting a veil of mystery over their existence.