Indiana park officials stumbled upon a "peculiar" creature when they were working in a Posey County swamp last week. The two-legged amphibian was caught and placed a plastic bucket of water so herpetologists could take a closer look.
The Indiana Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) posted a 12-second video of the odd-looking critter on Facebook, gathering nearly 80,000 views in the span of just a week. In the post, the Indiana DWF identified the creature as a lesser siren — an aquatic salamander.
"Lesser sirens are one of Indiana’s most peculiar salamanders with their long, eel-like bodies, feathery gills, and only two front legs (no hind legs)," Indiana DNR explained. "They live in shallow, quiet bodies of water like ditches, ponds, and swamps."
Lesser sirens can grow up to 2 feet long, compared to greater sirens which stretch more than 3 feet. They're pretty harmless, mainly feeding on crayfish, molluscs, worms and other bugs.
"They don't bite," Indiana DFW added.
Because of its shape and color, many confuse lesser sirens with mudpuppies, which also live at the bottom of bodies of water. But the Indiana DNR pointed out an important distinction: "mudpuppies have four legs and sirens only have two legs, in front."
"If their aquatic environment dries up, they can survive by retreating into underwater crayfish burrows or burrowing down into the mud and forming a capsule-like protective cocoon around their bodies," the organization explained. "After the wetland fills back up with water they emerge and become active."
After snapping a few photos, the Indiana DNR released the lesser siren back into the wetland where it was caught.
"Well that's the neatest thing I've seen all day. I didnt know we had anything like that in Indiana," one Facebook user commented.
"That's the largest one I've seen," another added.