CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — While West Virginia may be better known for its peculiar cryptids, it’s home to some peculiar real animals as well.
Whether they’re animals with odd names, behaviors or appearances, the Mountain State has some weird ones.
Eastern Hellbender salamander
These large aquatic salamanders can reach 24 inches—or two feet—in length according to Marshall University.
They’re found at all elevations in streams west of the Allegheny Front.
Male hellbenders fertilize then stay with their mate’s 200 to 400 eggs for about 60 days, and it takes about two years for larvae to transform.
Marshall Univeristy says that while they’re commonly thought to be venomous, they’re not. So if you’re out fishing and accidentally catch one, you can safely release them.
Cow Knob salamander
These difficult-to-find salamanders are thought by scientists at Marshall University to be one of West Virginia’s rarest. They are only found in the highest peaks of the Shenandoah and North mountains, in Pendleton, Hardy and Hampshire counties along the Virginia border.
They’re known for having dark brown bodies with white or cream spots and prominent eyes and generally move less than six feet, unless it’s during mating season, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
This bright teal, red, and orange-striped endangered fish species is found in the upper Kanawha River basin, including the Gauley, Greenbrier, and greater New River watersheds in West Virginia.
They’re only about two to three inches in length and prefer to live in shallow, fast-flowing streams.
They also help freshwater mussels—which improve water quality—reproduce by helping to transport their larvae, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Virginia big-eared bat
On average, the Virginia big-eared bat is about 9.8 cm long in total, with more than 2.5 cm being ears, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. If you aren’t tipped off by their large ears, their belly fur is whiteish rather than brown.
You can find them in Preston, Randolph, Tucker, Grant, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Hardy, Kanawha, Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Summers, Mercer, Wyoming and McDowell counties.
They are federally endangered in the United States, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.
Yes, they exist. West Virginia is one of many landlocked states that have freshwater jellyfish in its lakes and rivers.
The United States Geological Survey has confirmed their presence in Berkeley, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Fayette, Grant, Greenbrier, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, Mason, Mercer, Monongalia, Morgan, Nicholas, Pleasants, Preston, Raleigh, Ritchie, Wayne, Wirt and Wood counties.
This species of “pack rat” is actually more closely related to a mouse than a rat.
They prefer occupying natural areas rather than human structures, usually living alone unless it’s breeding season, according to the National Park Service (NPS). Their defining features include large ears and white bellies, as well as their completely fur-covered tails.
Although they were believed locally extinct in many parts of the Allegheny Mountains, they were recently found in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park for the first time in 20 years.
The Allegheny woodrat has a global conservation status of G3, or vulnerable, meaning they’re at “moderate risk of extinction or elimination due to restricted range, relatively few populations, recent and widespread declines, or other factors,” according to the NPS.