A sideview of a Chinese Giant Salamander swimming through its tank

Chinese Giant Salamander

World's biggest amphibian
poison frog


World map highlighting China
Endangered Status



6 feet long
The average bed length is 6.25 feet long.
A silhouette of a 6.25 foot bed and Chinese Giant Salamander side by side for size comparison

They are the largest amphibians on the planet. 

A graphic of meat

As adults, these huge salamanders are top predators. They aren’t picky—they eat crabs, insects, fish, worms, snails, lizards, frogs, snakes, small mammals, and even smaller salamanders. As larvae, they eat plankton.

fast-flowing rivers, streams
Graphic of a water-based habit


A Chinese Giant Salamander hiding in the shadows at the bottom of the waterbed


Hiding Out

If you wanted to hide at the bottom of a river, what would you wear? How about mottled grayish or greenish and brown? Chinese giant salamanders can hide in plain sight in the rocky river bottoms where they live. Still, they hole up in dens during the daytime to rest, and avoid predators like otters, foxes, weasels, and badgers.

A Chinese Giant Salamander with its mouth open to eat

Sit and Wait

Chinese giant salamanders are known as “sit-and-wait" predatorsThey wait for their prey to come to them. Their tiny eyes have poor vision, but the salamanders detect prey another way. They feel vibrations from animals in the water. When prey gets close enough, all they have to do is open wide. Just by opening their jaws, their large mouth quickly sucks in prey.

A baby Chinese Giant Salamander

Den Master

During breeding season, a male giant salamander watches over an underwater den. A female visits to lay strings of tiny eggs for him to fertilize. He guards the eggs until they hatch into larvae. Several females may lay their eggs in his den, so he may not be able to leave for three or four months. During this time, he doesn’t eat.

A Chinese Giant Salamander at the bottom of its habitat


Habitat loss and water pollution are bad for these endangered salamanders. But the main threat is people. People hunt them for food, even where it is illegal. Some people have started giant salamander farms, but they sometimes take more salamanders from rivers when the ones they are raising don’t reproduce.