Swimming with Hellbenders On the Banks of Yellow Creek

It’s not every day a boy gets the chance to hold a snot otter. It’s not every day a boy is invited to participate in something so cool and boyish and wet and muddy and ideal that he now looks for unique creatures in every body of water he visits. It was his first encounter with scientists who work in creeks for a living, an experience that involved sunshine, slimy rocks, ancient hellbenders, National Public Radio (NPR) and folks from The Ohio State University.

Kids helped scientists find new homes for hellbenders

photo credit: Beck Harlan / NPR

Hellbenders are salamanders in need of a good home

The Eastern hellbender is a slimy, mud-colored salamander that lives under a rock (literally!). It blends in with its surroundings and is difficult to see in a creek bed, no matter how clear the water. Hellbenders are the largest salamander in the United States. They call the Appalachian region home, but without the help of folks like The Ohio State University’s Greg Lipps, they could become a threatened species.

You can read all about the hellbender and this Ohio experience here. Before you go, watch the short video, below. And be sure to look for the boy in camo and the man in the background wearing gum boots and blue plaid shirt. Those are my guys and they loved every second of this slippery adventure.



The entire event now serves as a [gentle] warning and reminder to my boy. He now has living proof: if he works hard, studies diligently, and remembers to always ask “Why in the world?” he, too, could play in the mud and get paid for it. Idyllic. And basically, a homeschool family’s dream come true.

Special thanks to the Yellow Creek Conservation Club for inviting us to the party!

This was his first experience with hellbenders, but the boy is no stranger to creeks. Here and here and here are a few other watery escapades that made a big splash in recent memory.



Go exploring! You may enjoy these previous posts.

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  • comment-avatar
    Laura Wamelink Haggarty October 6, 2017 (7:18 am)

    Hellbenders are the most amazing creatures! We’ve seen them in the Little Beaver Creek, in Fredericktown, OH.

    • comment-avatar
      Jennifer Kiko October 7, 2017 (7:44 am)

      Agreed – fascinating! And even though they’re ugly, it’s a cute kind of ugly. Enjoy them! 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Virginia October 18, 2017 (3:18 pm)

    Great post, salamanders are a great part of the ecosystem!