The streams that create waterfalls host lots of critters that are fun to see and learn about. Salamanders, crayfish, snails, worms, tadpoles, and frogs are just some of the popular critters you will hopefully see. Dozens of critters live under the rocks and depend on them for their survival. If you kick a rock out of place, you might cause a critter to die or lose its home. It is important for us to observe without disturbing them, and to protect their habitats and food source.


The Eastern Hellbender is one of only three giant salamanders found in the world. North Carolina is home to more than 65 species of salamanders, with over 50 species in the mountain region alone. The Eastern Hellbender is one of the largest salamanders found in North Carolina and the United States.

If you have never seen a live hellbender, the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education in Brevard, NC has one in an exhibit.

Junior Scientist: By carefully observing these critters in their natural habitat, you are contributing to the work of scientists who study them. Your work can help us find out which streams are healthy and full of life and which areas may need more protection and clean ups. Every observation you make and picture you send us can help add to our database of knowledge!


Take a picture of five creek critters, like salamanders, crayfish, snails, worms, tadpoles, frogs, or any of the macroinvertebrates. (Invertebrates are animals that don’t have a backbone, and the word “macro” means “large.” So, a “macroinvertebrate” is an animal that doesn’t have a backbone and is large enough to see with your naked eye. Insects are a good example.) 

Do one of the following:

* Click here to download the Creek Critter Coloring Page. Color the page the way you think it’s supposed to look.

* Click here to download the Dot-to-Dot Salamander Coloring Page. Connect the dots on the page and then color the salamander.

Learn about hellbenders.

* Click this link to read some great information about the hellbender salamander.

* Click this link to watch a cool video about the hellbender.

* Draw a picture of a hellbender and write an interesting fact you learned from the video or website. 

Create an account with ecoEXPLORE.

* Click here to open the ecoEXPLORE website and create an account if you don’t already have one. 

* Submit your favorite photo of the creek critters you found to ecoEXPLORE.

ecoEXPLORE is a program designed by The North Carolina Arboretum. While you are exploring waterfalls, you can snap photos of plants and animals. Upload your photos to the ecoEXPLORE website and earn badges and prizes! 


Before you request your badge, make sure you signed up to be a Junior Keeper by clicking the registration form on the Junior Waterfall Keepers page. Once you’re registered, submit the form on the right. Make sure you upload all the photos you took for the challenge. For the coloring pages, you can scan them or take a picture of them and upload them with the other photos. This form is ONLY for the Creek Critters Badge. For the Junior Conservationist Badge, you need to use the form on the Junior Conservationist page.