Two Toed Amphiuma

Week 27th May – 2nd June 2013

How did you do with this weeks “Mystery Creature”? A few correct answers… it was a two toed Amphiuma!

photo credit: brian.gratwicke via photopin cc
photo credit: brian.gratwicke via photopin cc
The two toed Amphiuma (Amphiuma means) is a snake like salamander found primarily in Southern USA.  They are often (incorrectly) called conger eel, congo eel or congo snake. It has four short legs with two toes on each which appear to serve no purpose.  These creatures can grow up to one metre in length and are nocturnal, feeding usually on small fish, snails, small salamanders, small frogs and even some snakes.  They tend to live in acidic waters in swampy areas.
The Amphiuma has a very slimy skin which make them very difficult to handle.  They do not pose any chemical (poisonous) threat to humans but can harm physically as they have a very fast sharp bite, with a double row of razor sharp teeth.  They are also thought to generate suction to draw in their prey.  Typical of salamanders they do not have a tongue, but unlike other salamanders they are not mute, but instead are know to make a whistle type sound.
The female lays up to  as many as 150 to 200 eggs, laid in a long string and then coils around them to incubate them for almost five months (20 weeks), until the young hatch.


Science blogger and writer; Owner of Dr. How's Science Wows; Mother of three junior scientists who have taught me that to be a great scientist you need to look at life through the eyes of a child!