It does offer a good excuse to talk about a really amazing creature that is found almost nowhere else. The Idaho Giant Salamander lives only in Idaho, and in a small area of western Montana. It’s a giant only in comparison with other salamanders, coming in at about 13 inches in length. It can be found in streams and rivers doing mostly what it does best: eating. It has a voracious appetite, but as long as you have a spine you’re not likely prey. They eat mostly invertebrates.
Idaho Giant Salamanders are incredible animals, best known for one peculiar trick. Most of them choose to live their lives in streams scarfing down snails and such, but a small percentage of them find life on land a better gig. It’s not that they go back and forth. They’re either stream dwellers that have the necessary gills for that, or they live out their life on land, losing their gills and developing lungs. The land-dwelling salamanders develop a different, more upright body stance. Their head changes shape and their eyes take up a new position. Even their color changes. Most people looking at a stream-dweller and a land-dweller together would swear they were completely different species.
The Idaho Giant Salamander became Idaho’s official amphibian in 2015 following five years of lobbying efforts by persistent Idaho teen Ilah Hickman.
To learn more about the Idaho Giant Salamander, Google Windows on Wildlife Giant Salamander.