Annual amphibian-hunting trip to Great Smoky Mountains thrills U-M undergrads

May 24, 2012
Jim Erickson

Each year, the University of Michigan’s Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles course culminates in a field trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where the students spend several days searching for salamanders and other amphibians. The highlight is the hunt for giant hellbender salamanders, which live under flat rocks in cold, fast-moving streams. Hellbenders, which can grow up to 2 feet in length, are the largest aquatic salamanders in North America. The annual Smoky Mountains trip provides U-M undergraduates with an opportunity to handle live salamanders that they’ve previously seen only in textbooks or preserved in museum specimen jars.

Watch the short video below about this year’s trip, which took place this spring and included 10 students.