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Video BIGGEST Salamander in Japan!
20:00   |   today at 05:08


  • - Alright, comin' up.
  • Alright guys, I'm going in.
  • Whoa.
  • There's the head, there's the head.
  • Look at it, it's the size of a cantaloupe.
  • (energetic music)
  • (animal roars)
  • - [Coyote Voiceover] The giant salamander is considered
  • a special national monument by the Japanese government,
  • and for centuries, it has lurked
  • in the shadows of myth and lore.
  • Ranking as the second largest salamander species
  • in the world, they can grow to lengths
  • of nearly five feet, classifying them as monstrous
  • in the world of amphibians.
  • The Brave Wilderness team and I
  • had the incredible honor of working
  • alongside renowned salamander expert Dr. Sumio Okada,
  • and we traveled deep into the wilds
  • of the Tottori Prefecture to find and collect biometric data
  • on these elusive river dragons.
  • - Wait, wait, wait, something right here.
  • Right here, we got one, got one!
  • Wow, look at that!
  • Have you ever seen an amphibian of that size?
  • - [Coyote Voiceover] Due to their vulnerable status
  • and strict licensing, only Okada Sensei
  • was allowed to catch and handle the wild specimens.
  • Yet when it comes to giants in captivity,
  • the regulations are a bit more flexible.
  • Today we are visiting the Hanzaki Research Institute
  • of Japan.
  • For over a decade, their mission has been to research
  • and help to ensure the survival
  • of the Japanese giant salamander.
  • In the field, I did my best to learn all I could
  • from Okada Sensei.
  • My diligence toward being a good student
  • in the art of giant salamander research
  • ultimately earned my teacher's trust,
  • and I was given the invitation
  • to assist in the yearly data collection
  • for the institute's oldest, largest,
  • and most cherished salamander, the great LsanshMuo.
  • - Alright, so Okada Sensei said wait right here.
  • He's going up there into the enclosure
  • to check on the salamander.
  • Now, this is one of the largest Japanese giant salamanders
  • ever found that is currently on record.
  • He tells me it is absolutely enormous.
  • It's going to dwarf anything that we saw in the field.
  • I'm super excited, I can barely contain myself right now
  • because I'm gonna be able to get hands-on
  • with this animal to help with the measurements.
  • So the role is gonna sorta be reversed here.
  • I'm gonna be collecting the measurements,
  • Okada Sensei is going to be writing them down.
  • Are you guys ready for this?
  • We are going to see one of the largest
  • Japanese giant salamanders ever seen.
  • - [Mark] Let's do it!
  • - Let's go!
  • Oh no wait, he just told us to wait right here.
  • - [Mark] Oh.
  • (Coyote laughs)
  • - Oh, I'm like, jumping out of my skin right now.
  • - [Mark] Alright, ready?
  • - Yeah. - [Mark] Alright!
  • - We're ready!
  • - [Mark] Let's do it!
  • - Let's do it, guys.
  • Oh man!
  • You guys nervous?
  • - [Mark] I don't know, I'm excited.
  • - [Coyote Voiceover] Following in the footsteps
  • of my teacher, we ascended a flight of stairs
  • and entered the paddock of this ancient creature.
  • Its fenced and fortified containment area
  • wasn't necessarily designed to keep the salamander in,
  • but instead was designed to keep
  • any potential predators out.
  • - Now, Okada Sensei has quarantined the biggest one down
  • in one enclosure for us so it's easier to find,
  • easier for us to catch and collect the biometric data.
  • So it's in this one?
  • - Do you see it?
  • - Oh!
  • Right there, look at that!
  • Look, that's its nose sticking out.
  • Whoa!
  • Hold on, get a shot, get a shot.
  • That is a giant salamander.
  • Alright, so what we're gonna do
  • is actually enter into the enclosure,
  • we'll peel back these boards,
  • gently get the salamander out into the open water.
  • We're gonna have to get it into a net
  • and then up here to collect the biometric data,
  • but we'll spend a couple minutes there
  • inside the enclosure to sort of look at some of its features
  • and just be in awe of what this creature is.
  • We'll come around like this.
  • - [Mark] Is it gonna take all that weight?
  • - I'll let you go in first.
  • I'm gonna leave my pack up here, guys.
  • - [Mark] Alright.
  • - Alright guys, I'm going in.
  • - [Mark] 'Kay, careful.
  • - Getting into the water.
  • Woo, that is cold!
  • That is some cold water.
  • Alright here, hand me your camera.
  • - Oh boy.
  • Here you go, Mario.
  • Woo!
  • - Before we get the salamander out of there,
  • lemme see if I can get a shot of it
  • with the GoPro just hunkered down here.
  • So it's right under here, right?
  • - [Dr. Okada] Here.
  • - Okay.
  • Now, let's try to move really, really slowly
  • so that we don't muddy the water.
  • We wanna try to keep it as clear as possible.
  • I'm gonna have to just go, sort of just go blind
  • on this here.
  • Hopefully the camera is picking up the salamander.
  • You can see--
  • - [Mark] It's definitely moving backwards.
  • More of the tail's coming out the back.
  • - Lotta debris in there.
  • Oh, oh, oh, I see it, you're right.
  • It is starting to come out the back.
  • Well, maybe we're getting a shot, tough to tell.
  • - [Mark] Oh man, it's big.
  • - There it is, it's right there.
  • - [Mark] It's actually backing up, it looks like.
  • - Oh my goodness, it is huge.
  • That is just its tail.
  • Its tail is like, the size of a canoe paddle.
  • This is the largest amphibian I have ever seen in my life.
  • It's time to reveal the beast.
  • You ready?
  • - I do--
  • - You do the rocks?
  • - Yeah, and you do--
  • - I'll get the boards?
  • Okay.
  • Guys, this is something that is done once a year,
  • removing the salamander from the breeding paddock
  • to collect its biometric data.
  • This is a very special day, an incredible honor
  • for all of us to be a part of this process.
  • This is it.
  • - [Mark] You ready? - This is it, yeah.
  • Trying to not disturb the silt.
  • Whoa.
  • Look at that.
  • Are you kidding me?
  • Look at the size of that thing.
  • There's the head, there's the head.
  • Look at it, the size of a cantaloupe!
  • Whoa, my goodness that is a monstrous salamander!
  • - [Mark] It's so much bigger than I thought.
  • Wait, there's two!
  • - Yeah, there's a smaller one in here.
  • Smaller one in here, there's another one over here,
  • but that is the big guy.
  • Okada Sensei, so what's the best plan from here?
  • Is it okay for me to go in and bring the salamander
  • around to this side?
  • - Yeah.
  • - Okay.
  • Got it, thank you.
  • Now here's a question, before we get it in the net,
  • can you bring it up here and can I slightly lift it
  • to reveal it for the camera?
  • - Yeah.
  • - Yeah, okay.
  • Before we put it in the net, 'cause once it's in the net,
  • it'll be really hard to see.
  • We actually need this smaller one into the next tube here.
  • C'mere, buddy.
  • Oh, they're so unique-feeling!
  • There you go, you go in here.
  • Whoa!
  • Wow!
  • This is the first contact I've made
  • with one of these salamanders.
  • It is incredible!
  • C'mon, big guy.
  • There we go.
  • Slowly coax him down through here, there you go.
  • Wow, look at that.
  • An absolute giant.
  • What an ancient creature, a living fossil.
  • This animal is well over a hundred years of age.
  • Look at how cool that thing is.
  • Can you believe that?
  • Look at it, whoa.
  • Whoa, he's so slimy.
  • Impossible to hold on to.
  • That's why we have to use a dip net
  • to actually get it out of here.
  • Not only is it strong, it is also incredibly slippery.
  • Alright, so we're gonna gently, there we go.
  • Slide down into that net.
  • Okay, the salamander is safely inside of the dip net.
  • So I'm gonna go up and Okada Sensei
  • is gonna pass the giant up to me.
  • Oh, heavy.
  • Got it?
  • - [Mark] You okay?
  • - Yep.
  • Whoa!
  • Got him, got him, got him, got him, got him.
  • Yep, good, good, good.
  • Whoa!
  • It is strong!
  • It is heavy!
  • Wow!
  • Alright, that is me cradling a Japanese giant salamander.
  • Tail first?
  • - Head first, okay.
  • So this end opens up.
  • Okay.
  • Set him here.
  • There we go.
  • Okay.
  • I do have to be careful that I'm not bitten.
  • The do have extremely sharp teeth,
  • and this is a very large animal.
  • So I have to gently get this opened up
  • and he will slide out this end.
  • Alright, here we go.
  • Look at that.
  • - [Mark] Whoa.
  • - Look at that giant.
  • Hi, buddy.
  • Okay.
  • Wow!
  • Okay, got my hand underneath the jaw.
  • There we go.
  • Okay, I'm gonna gently slide it down here, Okada Sensei,
  • so we can fully reveal the salamander.
  • There we go.
  • So slippery.
  • The layer of mucus that coats their bodies is,
  • it's just like, you see that?
  • It's like snot.
  • And we wanna put as little stress
  • on the creature as possible.
  • We're gonna quickly collect the biometric data,
  • get a couple of cool shots, and then release it
  • right back into the enclosure.
  • But let's just take one second
  • to admire the design of this animal's body.
  • Look at how wide it is.
  • Look at the head.
  • And you know what?
  • I'm looking, I can't even see the eyes.
  • The eyes are right up front here.
  • They have such teeny tiny little eyes.
  • Get a little water on it, there.
  • Oh, that's good.
  • Yes, yes, yes.
  • Wow.
  • - [Mark] Its head is bigger than your head.
  • - It is!
  • I feel like my entire head could fit inside of its mouth,
  • but that's not a place that you wanna find yourself.
  • Look at the tail.
  • Enormous, absolutely enormous.
  • So much power in this animal, and when I was cradling it
  • as it came up out of the enclosure,
  • you could feel just how strong it truly was.
  • Okay, so the first thing we're gonna end up getting
  • is the total length of the animal.
  • Oh, you hear that noise that it's making?
  • - [Mark] Yeah, like a hiss.
  • - It's like a grumbling!
  • Sh sh sh sh sh sh sh.
  • Oh, he's gonna push that rock, push those rocks down.
  • Okay.
  • Okay cool, we've kinda got him in a good position
  • to get the total length here.
  • Right there, okay.
  • We're just gonna go with this here.
  • We are at 49 and a half.
  • 49 and a half is what it appears.
  • In centimeters, that is 126 centimeters.
  • Wow.
  • That is a giant.
  • Okay, so we're not gonna do the snout to vent length.
  • It's too much to put this animal on its back
  • to get that measurement.
  • So the next thing we're gonna do is get the head width
  • and also the tail height and finally its body weight.
  • We've got some rain rolling in
  • so we're gonna have to do this quickly, guys.
  • Alright, I'm gonna get the tail height first.
  • I wanna do that at the highest point if possible.
  • It is right at 14.
  • 14 centimeters.
  • - [Dr. Okada] 14.
  • - 21.
  • - [Dr. Okada] 21.
  • - 21.
  • Alright, head width 21 centimeters.
  • Absolutely dwarfs the giant that we caught in the field.
  • Alright, so the next thing to do?
  • - Body weight, okay.
  • So how do we get the body weight?
  • We have to put it in--
  • - Okay, put it inside the blue container
  • and then put that on top of this.
  • Okay, great.
  • So we're putting a little bit of water
  • inside of the container
  • just to keep the salamander hydrated.
  • You don't want its skin to stick to the basin.
  • Alright, so we're saying that the weight of the container
  • with the water is 16 kilograms.
  • We will put the salamander inside
  • and then subtract that weight from 16.
  • - Coyote, lie down next to it real quick.
  • - It's almost impossible to comprehend
  • how big this thing is, you're right,
  • unless we get something like a human next to it for scale.
  • Look at that.
  • Alright, now this, we have to do this quickly
  • and very gently because it's very, very slippery.
  • So we have as little chance for error as possible.
  • C'mere, big guy.
  • Okay.
  • - Head first.
  • - Yep, okay, there you go.
  • Real gentle.
  • Alright.
  • Oh man.
  • So big, look at that.
  • For the main episode the other night
  • when we were in the field, we had a small container.
  • This is as big as it gets.
  • - [Coyote Voiceover] So why is this giant salamander
  • in captivity?
  • Great question.
  • Many years ago during the building of a bridge system,
  • its home was destroyed and the animal
  • was accidentally injured by a piece of heavy machinery.
  • The construction team quickly realized what they had found
  • and immediately alerted the Hanzaki Institute.
  • The good news is that the salamander survived.
  • The bad news is that its home was destroyed,
  • and as a displaced animal of this size and stature,
  • it was decided that the great LsanshMuo
  • should be kept in captivity.
  • - So that just goes to show you guys
  • that even if an animal like this loses an appendage,
  • something like its foot or its toes,
  • it still has the ability to survive against all odds.
  • I mean, this is considered a national treasure right here.
  • When you look at an animal like this
  • and you think to yourself wow,
  • this has been on the planet longer than most of us.
  • It is certainly something that needs to be preserved,
  • that needs to be cherished and honored,
  • and it's really cool that this salamander
  • is now a part of the breeding program
  • here at the Hanzaki Institute.
  • Alright, guys ready to get the weight?
  • - [Mark] Yep, let's get the weight.
  • - Okay, so hands off of the container,
  • we've got it perfectly balanced, salamander on the scale,
  • and we are at just about 30 kilograms.
  • Remember, we need to take 16 away from that,
  • so 14 kilograms is the weight of this amphibian.
  • An absolute giant.
  • Cannot believe it.
  • Never thought that I would see a salamander of this size.
  • - [Mark] Man, so cool!
  • Alright, cool.
  • Do we wanna look at some of its interesting characteristics?
  • - Sure, yeah.
  • Let's take it back down off of the scale.
  • We've only got a couple more minutes with it
  • and then we gotta get it back into its enclosure.
  • Okay.
  • Right here.
  • Alright.
  • Alright guys, now the last thing we need to do
  • is sorta just examine the salamander's features,
  • make sure its feet and all the aspects of its body
  • are in really good shape.
  • So the first thing we're gonna look at
  • are the four feet here.
  • The hands, look at that, look at how big that hand is.
  • Now, these salamanders have four toes on the front feet
  • and on the back feet they have five toes, check that out.
  • And those digits are about as big in width as my fingers,
  • look at that.
  • Holding hands with a Japanese giant salamander.
  • Salamander is incredibly healthy.
  • When you get down to here, you'll notice
  • all of the muscle in this tail.
  • It is just a solid mass of power, look at that.
  • A large rudder that helps this animal move
  • through the environment and also to quickly maneuver itself
  • if it needs to escape from a predator.
  • Now, look at these flaps of skin
  • that run along the sides of the body here.
  • They're actually able to absorb oxygen
  • through those flaps, which helps them to breathe underwater.
  • As we know, they also have lungs,
  • actually it was just blowing some bubbles up front there.
  • - [Mark] So this animal breathes through its skin.
  • - It can.
  • They of course, they have lungs,
  • they do come to the surface to get a big gulp of air,
  • but they can stay submerged for hours at a time,
  • especially when the males are defending the den.
  • As we know, the males are often times called den masters.
  • They protect the eggs, they protect the larva.
  • - [Mark] So Coyote, what does it feel like?
  • - Like a big, wet, muscular slinky.
  • Go ahead, Mark, reach down in there,
  • get some water on your hands first
  • and just give it a little pet, feel the skin.
  • Very dense, right?
  • - Oh wow.
  • A lot than actually I imagined.
  • I imagined it being a lot slimier.
  • It's not that slimy.
  • - Yeah, no.
  • But they do secrete more mucus if they're feeling stressed.
  • So it's really good, you can see
  • the animal's completely calm at this point,
  • just keeping it in a little bit of water
  • helps keep it hydrated.
  • Alright, well I think we've collected
  • all of the necessary data, which means it is time for us
  • to safely get this salamander back into its enclosure.
  • Alright.
  • That never gets any easier.
  • - [Mark] Salamander coming in.
  • - Got him.
  • - [Mark] Good good good.
  • - Okay.
  • This, alright, here we go.
  • Alright, got him.
  • There he is.
  • Alright.
  • Oh, he's so slippery.
  • You ready?
  • - Yep. - Okay.
  • Alright, here he goes.
  • Wow.
  • That was cool.
  • Okada Sensei, thank you so much
  • for giving us the chance to get up close
  • with this national treasure.
  • What an incredible day for the Brave Wilderness crew
  • and a true honor to work with this salamander here in Japan.
  • I'm Coyote Peterson, be brave, stay wild.
  • We'll see you on the next adventure.
  • - [Mark] Nice! - Yeah!
  • - [Mark] High five! (laughs)
  • - Alright, I'm getting out of this cold water.
  • - [Coyote Voiceover] Working alongside Okada Sensei
  • in the field and getting hands-on
  • with Japanese giant salamanders
  • while visiting the Hanzaki Institute
  • was one of the most meaningful experiences
  • the Brave Wilderness team and I have ever had.
  • Approximately 41% of the world's amphibian species
  • are threatened, and giant salamanders are no exception.
  • The significance this animal holds in Japanese culture
  • cannot be matched, and it was a true honor
  • that we as visitors to this sacred land
  • were entrusted with telling these stories.
  • Conservation efforts for the giant salamander
  • are imperative for its survival,
  • and if you would like to help,
  • make sure to visit
  • to ensure that there is a future for these majestic animals.
  • If you missed our thrilling adventure
  • into the mysterious world of giant salamanders,
  • make sure to go back and watch,
  • as we got the slippery amphibian up close for the cameras.
  • And don't forget, subscribe and click the notification bell
  • so you can join me and the crew on our next wild adventure.
  • - What's very distinct about this salamander
  • as compared to the hellbender is look at all these
  • fleshy little nodules on the head.
  • We didn't see that with the hellbender.
  • (wolf howling)

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On this episode of Breaking Trail, Coyote and crew are back in Japan with Dr. Sumio Okada - who introduces them to the LARGEST amphibian that Coyote has ever seen! Once a year, Dr. Okada collects biometric data from this Giant Salamander, and the Brave Crew have been invited to assist!

Get ready, you’re about to see the BIGGEST Salamander in Japan! And stay tuned for PART THREE premiering this coming Friday!

If you want to help in the conservation efforts of the Japanese Giant Salamander, visit to learn about the ecotourism opportunities to see these salamanders in the wild! Special thanks to Richard Pearce and renowned Japanese Giant Salamander biologist Dr. Sumio Okada!

Breaking Trail leaves the map behind and follows adventurer and animal expert Coyote Peterson and his crew as they encounter a variety of wildlife in the most amazing environments on the planet! The Brave Wilderness Channel is your one stop connection to a wild world of adventure and amazing up close animal encounters!

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