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The amazing Lake Titicaca water frog

The unique features of the Lake Titicaca frog (Telmatobius culeus) make them perfect for their natural environment and have a special place in the hearts of many animal enthusiasts. They are one of the largest species of aquatic frogs in the world, reaching an outstretched length up to 20 inches, and can weigh up to 2 pounds each! They can be found in colors ranging gray to brown and can even sometimes be green tinted. They have a slow metabolism but when they get hungry, they snack on amphipods, insects, snails, fish, and worms … yum! An adult female frog is also capable of laying 500 eggs at a time! These frogs are only native to Lake Titicaca in the Andean Highlands of South America.

While most animals with lungs will spend at least small amounts of time on or around land, the Titicaca frog will live its entire life underwater. They are known for their excessive skin folds covering their entire body. These skin folds help them respire in the cold oxygen-rich waters of the lake. They can even be seen doing “push-ups” to allow more water to pass through their folds, increasing the oxygen absorption when needed. Now that’s a rewarding workout!

As amazing as these special frogs are, they are currently listed as critically endangered. Their numbers have declined as much as 80% over the past 15 years due to over-collecting for human consumption, pollution and predation of tadpoles by introduced trout. Conservation efforts have been formed to help troubleshoot these problems. There are also projects being established with populations in human care that may hopefully lead to future reintroductions.

Don’t forget to stop into Scaly Slimy Spectacular on your next visit and check out the amazing Lake Titicaca frogs!
Sam J.
Keeper III, Herpetology

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