The largest amphibian in the world is a salamander. The Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus‚Äč) reaches sizes up to 5'9" (180 cm)!

Photo Credit: Andrea Drayer

Photo Credit: Kirsten Hecht


Photo Credit: Phil Colclough

Photo Credit: Dana Karelus

Photo Credit: Kirsten Hecht


Wondering what the difference between a newt and a salamander is? Newts are actually a family of salamanders!

What is a salamander?

Salamanders are an order of amphibians called Caudata. They are not lizards which are reptiles and have scales. Although many people think salamanders live on both land and water during their lives, there are a few different salamander lifestyles. Some salamanders live in water their whole lives, while others will never live in water. Some spend time in both. No matter where they live, these animals find ways to stay moist. Like other amphibians, most salamanders have smooth slimy skin and lay eggs without a shell. Salamanders have tails in all of their life stages and are carnivores. Many have four legs and a tube shaped body. There are other traits that help distinguish salamanders from the other amphibians but many aren't easily seen.


Currently scientists recognize 684 salamanders species in ten salamander families. The Southeastern United States is home to seven of the families, including these giant salamander groups: AmphiumasHellbendersMudpuppy and Waterdogs, and Sirens. All of these giant salamanders are aquatic. They also all retain larval characters, and are therefore paedomorphic. None of these species pose danger to humans, although some can inflict painful bites.