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Q & A
Hellbender
Question
This past Tuesday night my buddy hooked into a big ugly animal that looked like a prehistoric salamander. He said he thought it was a "hellbender."  What's a hellbender?
Answer
Eastern HellbenderHellbenders are Pennsylvania's largest salamanders. They can reach 29 inches in length and weigh up to five pounds. Typical hellbenders found in Pennsylvania streams are 10 to 20 inches in length. Hellbenders come out only at night and the reside in clean, clear flowing rivers and streams with lots of rocks to hide under.  Anglers fishing at night occasionally inadvertently catch a hellbender by hook and line.

Hellbenders aren't very pretty, but they are an important part of Pennsylvania's stream and river ecosystems. Scientists estimate that they can live for up to 30 to 50 years. They co-exist very well with native trout populations. They don't eat trout.  If you catch a hellbender, you should release it unharmed to the waters from which taken.

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