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Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus), Ōsanshōuo (オオサンショ�ウオ/大山椒魚 )

The Japanese giant salamander (Andrias japonicus) is endemic to Japan, where it is known as Ōsanshōuo (オオサンショウウオ/大山椒魚 ?). With a length of up to almost 1.5 meters (5 ft),[1] it is the second largest salamander in the world, only being surpassed by the very similar and closely related Chinese giant salamander (A. davidianus).


Behavior

The Japanese giant salamander, being restricted to streams with clear cool water, is entirely aquatic and nocturnal. It has a very poor eyesight, and therefore depends on special sensory nodes on its forehead to detect even the slightest movement in the water. It feeds mainly on insects, frogs and fish. As it has a very slow metabolism and lacks natural competitors, it is a long-lived species, with the record being an individual that lived in the Natura Artis Magistra, the Netherlands, for 52 years.
A captive Japanese giant salamander

History

The Japanese giant salamander was first catalogued by Europeans when the resident physician of Dejima island in Nagasaki, Philipp Franz von Siebold captured an individual and shipped it back to Leiden, the Netherlands, in the 1820s.


Status

The Japanese giant salmander is threatened by pollution, habitat loss (among others by silting up of the rivers where it lives), and over-collecting, as it is considered a delicacy in the local cuisine. It is considered near threatened by IUCN, and is included on CITES Appendix I.[2]


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