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Wolf's Signature Makes Hellbender State's Official Amphibian

eastern_hellbender.jpg
Rick Callahan
/
AP
In this June 18, 2014, photo, Rod Williams, a Purdue University associate professor of herpetology, holds a hellbender that he and a team of students collected in southern Indiana's Blue River near Corydon, Ind.

A slimy, 2-foot-long salamander that needs clean streams to thrive is Pennsylvania's new official amphibian, the culmination of a three-year student campaign.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Tuesday signed legislation that granted the honor to the Eastern hellbender, a nocturnal animal whose colorful nicknames include snot otter, lasagna lizard and mud devil.

Members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's student leadership council began the campaign to designate it as the state's official amphibian, helped by Lycoming College's Clean Water Institute.

It's the largest salamander in North America.

Wolf says the most recent official designation of that type in the state occurred in 1974, when the firefly was named Pennsylvania's official insect.