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DEC. 5, 2016

What’s in those Waters?

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Was that a common mudpuppy or maybe even a hellbender hiding under that rock?  It could have been here in the Little River or in Eagle’s Nest Branch, especially 100 years ago when the waters ran much cleaner and fresher.  We know that the Eastern Hellbender can still be found in the Davidson and Mills Rivers cascading out of Pisgah National Forest just up the road.  Is the Little River clean enough yet to again host these increasingly rare salamander species?

That is exactly what our new land conservation easement is hoping to help.  By diligently working to protect our streambanks, removing invasive species and ensuring the riparian buffers are strong we can make a difference in our water quality.  Reducing run off and silt even a little bit makes a big difference to all the creatures who call our waterways their home.

Explorer’s Club Summer 2017 we should do a monitoring of our water and see what we think – could a hellbender or mudpuppy live in it?   Can we find any?  If you are game for this project think about signing up for Explorers Club next summer!

Mudpuppy

Mudpuppy

Cool Facts about the Common Mudpuppy: Necturus maculosus

  • It is a  carnivorous amphibian
  • They are also called waterdogs and are one of the very few salamanders that can make a noise – sounds a little bit like a dog bark
  • They can grow to be 16 inches long but average about 11 inches
  • They have external red gills and 4 toes

Cool Facts about the Eastern Hellbender: Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis

  • They are the largest aquatic salamanders found in the U.S.
  • The can grow as big as 29 inches – big enough to eat a water snake
  • They absorb oxygen through their skin – the young ones have gills but they lose them at about 18 months old
  • Hellbenders are nocturnal, coming out of their rocky hide-aways at night to feast on crayfish and other creatures

Check out this video on these amazing creatures! 

Noni Waite-Kucera, Executive Director