Learn about ‘Ancient Salamanders’ at Audubon First Friday, Jan. 3

Also known as snot otter, devil dog, lasagna lizard, and Allegheny alligator, the hellbender is North America’s largest salamander.

You can learn more about these unusual creatures when Ken Roblee presents “Eastern Hellbenders: Ancient Salamanders of New York” at the Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) First Friday Lunch Bunch on January 3, 11 a.m.

The Giant Salamander family Chryptobranchidae first showed up in North America in Paleocene rocks just over 55 million years old. This area is fortunate to have the downsized representative of the family in the Allegheny River watershed of Western New York and Pennsylvania.

Hellbenders are the largest salamander in the region, reaching lengths of up to 29 inches. They live locally in larger rivers and were recently named Pennsylvania’s state amphibian. Living 25 to 30 years in the wild, these solitary animals walk underwater and spend most of their time under rocks. Ken Roblee, a retired New York State Department of Environmental Conservation senior biologist, specialized in reptiles and amphibians. He will share his knowledge of and experiences with this species over 15 years of research and protection of hellbenders.

Bring your own brown bag lunch for after the program. ACNC provides coffee and tea. The fee for attending First Friday is $8 or $6 for Nature Center members. Walk-ins are welcome. Registrations are accepted through Thursday, Jan. 2, by calling (716) 569-2345 during business hours or going online to AudubonCNC.org/Programs and clicking “Current Schedule.”


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