As mentioned in the video, hellbenders are an indicator of water quality. These salamanders need swift, cool and clean water in order to survive. The streams hellbenders live in look similar to the streams in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. However, you won’t find any hellbenders in the D.C. streams. The key to hellbender habitat is elevation!
In the Appalachian Mountains, where hellbenders are from, the streams consist of melted snow from the mountains. So, the water can get quite cold! Their exhibit mimics the natural water flow and temperature of the streams with powerful pumps and chillers.
Light is also an important component to many of our animals’ habitats. To mimic day length, we have an astronomical timer which automatically adjusts the lights in hellbenders’ exhibit to reflect the conditions outside. For example, decreasing day light signals winter. The animals will adjust how much they eat and how active they are to match their natural behaviors during that time of year.