Two-toed amphiuma

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Two-toed amphiuma
Amphiuma (two-toed).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Amphiumidae
Genus: Amphiuma
Species: A. means
Binomial name
Amphiuma means
Garden in Smith, 1821

The two-toed amphiuma (Amphiuma means) is a snake-like salamander found chiefly in the southeastern United States. It is commonly, but incorrectly, called "congo snake", "conger eel" or the "blind eel". One of the largest extant species of amphibians in the world, they can grow from 39 to 1,042 g (1.4 to 36.8 oz) in mass and from 34.8 to 116 cm (13.7 to 45.7 in) in length.[2][3][4] They have four vestigial legs that end in two or three toes which are virtually useless, and eyes without lids. They are blue-black in color. They feed on small fish, crawfish, insect larvae, and even small snakes; they are harmless to humans when left alone, but when disturbed, they can deliver a tough bite, which may lead to a severe infection. Unlike other salamanders, which are mute, A. means gives a clear whistle when disturbed.[citation needed]


Two-toed amphiumas are nocturnal, and are often difficult to handle because of their slippery skins. They may leave water temporarily if weather is wet enough. They dig burrows in muddy stream bottoms, or may invade the burrows of other aquatic creatures. Amphiumas breed from June to July in North Carolina and northern Florida. Females lay about 200 eggs in a damp cavity beneath debris, and they remain coiled around them during incubation (which lasts around five months). Hatchlings are about 2 in (51 mm) long with light-colored gills soon lost after hatching.

Habitat and range[edit]

Amphiumas live in the stagnant waters of swamps, bayous, and commonly in drainage ditches. Their range includes southeastern Virginia, Florida, south Louisiana, and East and south Texas.


  1. ^ Geoffrey Hammerson (2004). Amphiuma means. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2.
  2. ^ Heisler, N.; Forcht, G.; Ultsch, G.R.; Anderson, J.F. (1982). "Acid-base regulation in response to environmental hypercapnia in two aquatic salamanders, Siren lacertina and Amphiuma means". Respiration Physiology. 49 (2): 141–58. doi:10.1016/0034-5687(82)90070-6. PMID 6815749. 
  3. ^ Caudata Culture Species Entry – Amphiuma. Retrieved on 2013-01-03.
  4. ^ Deyle, Anna C. (2011) Population Genetics of Amphiuma means and Siren lacertina in Central Florida. M.S. Thesis, University of South Florida