Bizarre salamander struggles with frog under the ice
Mudpuppies are one of nature's most bizarre creatures. In the middle of a frigid Canadian winter night, they are active below the ice, wandering and hunting. They are nocturnal feeders and they remain hidden under the rocks during the day.
Mudpuppies are salamanders. In fact, they are the largest of the salamanders and the only ones that are completely aquatic. Mudpuppies have lungs and they also breathe through their skin, but they have external gills which they can use during periods of lower oxygen availability. Their development stops before they reach a physical stage that would allow them to exist on land like all other salamanders.
This mudpuppy has been hunting in a stream below a dam in Eastern Ontario. It's 26 degrees below zero and most of the other creatures are hibernating. But this one has actually caught a frog and is trying to swallow it. It has a large head for the size of its body and it has a powerful set of jaws, but eating this frog will be a struggle.
Unfortunately for the frog, it is still struggling slightly to get away. Being cold blooded, the frog cannot move quickly. It also requires air to breath so the mudpuppy has a decided advantage.
Mudpuppies will eat fish, fish eggs, crayfish, insects, and frogs. Unlike most amphibians, they eat more in the winter than they do in the summer. They are more active in the cold months and it is during this time that they store up fat. Incredibly, they can live for up to 30 years and reach a length of more than a foot.
Biologists who study these fascinating creatures will put on hip waders and brave the freezing cold water to film them and catch them in nets, so they can be weighed and measured and then released again. They are carefully handled and not brought out of the water for more than a few seconds so that they do not freeze in the icy air.