Habitat: Lake Titicaca and rivers that flow into this lake in South America
Status: Critically Endangered
As the saying goes, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction… and this happens to be one of those moments. This is the Lake Titicaca Water Frog (Telmatobius culeus), however its latin name translates to the ‘aquatic scrotum’ frog. I’m sure this started out as a joke when it was first documented in the late 1800’s (and then brought to notoriety by an expedition led by Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s) … but I have to say, as odd as the name is… it’s actually rather fitting.
You see, the Titicaca Water Frog only inhabits – yes, you guessed it – Lake Titicaca, which is the highest lake in the world, lying 12,500 feet above sea level. In this extreme environment, only the most well-adapted of species are able to survive the freezing temperatures, high levels of UV radiation and extremely low levels of oxygen. To combat this 02 deficiency, the frog has taken to living a permanently aquatic life, gathering what little oxygen is in the water through its excessive amounts of saggy, drooping skin; hence the rather ballsy (god I’m good) scientific name.
These are really big frogs reaching lengths of up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) in length with individuals weighing up to 2.2 lbs. That’s a whole ‘lotta saggy ball frog.
Sadly, this amazing species is facing extinction due to over-collecting for human consumption, pollution, diseases, and predation of tadpoles due to introduced trout. So far there hasn’t been much success in terms of a captive breeding program – oddly enough, these guys are hesitant to mate. You’d think they’d be rarin’ to go with a name like that! It is important to note that the Denver Zoo along with international and local partners is involved in ongoing research of the Lake Titicaca Frog.
Much awareness has to be raised about this incredibly unique amphibian if we want to have any chance at saving it from extinction. Please take the time to tell anyone who may listen about the aquatic scrotum frog. It takes a whole ‘lotta cahones to bring a species back from the brink of extinction!
Would love to see #SavetheSack trending on twitter… just sayin’…