KYOTO (Kyodo) A motorist found a 105-cm giant salamander walking along a river road Tuesday in Kyoto and the animal was taken into temporary protective custody by police.

The man was driving along the Kamogawa River, which flows through the city, when he spotted the salamander at around 5:50 a.m. and dialed the 110 emergency phone number, prompting police to rush to the scene.

The huge amphibian was then brought to a police station in Kita Ward and kept there for several hours in a tub filled with water before being released upstream.

Giant salamanders can grow to more than 150 long and weigh more than 20 kg.

They are a highly protected species and have been designated by the government as a “special natural monument.”

The river-dwellers are entirely aquatic. But on rare occasions they leave the water to circumvent man-made obstacles that prevent them from moving upstream, either to breed or after being washed downstream by heavy rain.

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