AmphibiaWeb - Telmatobufo bullocki


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Telmatobufo bullocki Schmidt, 1952
Bullock’s False Toad
family: Calyptocephalellidae
genus: Telmatobufo
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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Telmatobufo bullocki is a stocky, toad-like frog with long, slender legs and webbed toes. Adults are 61.8 – 83.0 mm snout-vent length (Formas 2001). The digit tips are pointed, not dilated into discs, and unwebbed. The dorsal skin is covered in raised, rounded glands. Prominent oval parotoid glands are present just behind the eyes. Ventral skin is smooth. The tadpoles are morphologically adapted to life in fast-moving rivers and streams and have a wide ventral mouth and a paddle-shaped, robustly muscular tail fin (Formas 1988).

Telmatobufo bullocki has an interocular yellow band, distinguishing it from the other two species, Telmatobufo australis and T. venustus. Other diagnostic characteristics include: “…developed postfemoral skin ridge, thick tarsal fold, dorsal skin attached to the body [and a] vertical pupil” (Donoso et al. 2010). Tadpoles can be distinguished from tadpoles of Telmatobufo venustus by having 2 upper and 3 lower rows of papillae (Formas 1988).

In life, adults of this species are mottled grayish brown in color, with yellow filigree between the dorsal granules. The abdomen is yellowish brown with dark blotches. The most prominent coloration of this frog is the yellow interocular band situated between the eyes (Donoso et. al. 2010).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Chile

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Telmatobufo bullocki is endemic to Chile and was previously restricted to the Nahuelbata Mountain Range in an area of less than 500 km2. However, the two most recently described specimens were found 150 km north of this area, past the Bio Bío River—a well known biogeographical barrier. Ranging from 800 - 1,000 m above sea level, T. bullocki can be found around mountainous streams surrounded by dense vegetation during mating periods, and in upland pine forests during non-mating periods (Donoso et al. 2010).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Adults have been found underneath fallen logs and stones in Nothofagus forests. During the mating seasons in January, February, and August, T. bullocki moves from upland forests to fast-moving mountain streams. The tadpoles (present December through January) are highly adapted to lotic environments and adhere to river rocks using a broad buccal disc with which they scrape algae (Formas 2008). No information has been reported on the calling habits or sexual behavior of this species. Males have been observed to possess nuptial excrescences (prominent spiny warty) during the reproductive seasons. Females collected contained an average of 112 pale yellow eggs 2.4mm in diameter. It is mostly unknown exactly what T. bullocki’s diet consists of, but the stomach contents of the first described specimen included 19 insects and plant material, suggesting a mainly terrestrial diet (Formas et al. 2001).

Trends and Threats
IUCN has not specified a population trend, but it is most likely in decline due to the threats of clear cutting and deforestation. The process of removing these trees not only reduces the size of available habit but silts nearby streams, making making it difficult for larvae to feed. The possibility of death due to the use of mechanized harvest is also present, as well as toxins from herbicides and fertilizers on plantations. The species occurs within Chile’s Parque Nacional Nahuelbuta, but there is a need for additional protection and maintenance (Veloso et al. 2010).

Relation to Humans
As T. bullocki is very rare, the importance to humans is unknown. After 10 years of no documented occurrence of T. bullocki, a specimen was found and reignited concerns about the environmental repercussions of deforestation (Veloso et al. 2010).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants

Listed by UK’s EDGE (Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered) Program as the 5th most endangered amphibian species in the world. The CACC (Chilean Amphibian Conservation Center) is working on establishing an assurance colony of this species at the National Zoo of Chile in the city of Santiago (Safi et al. 2013).

The species authority is: Schmidt, K. P. (1952). "A new leptodactylid frog from Chile." Fieldiana Zoology, 34, 11-15.

Telmatobufo bullocki belongs to the family Calyptocephalellidae, which consists of four species in two genera and was once considered part of the large family Leptodactylidae. The closest relative of the Calyptocephalellidae is Australian family Myobatrachidae (Donoso et al. 2010).

In Greek, "Telmato-" means marsh, pool, standing or stagnant water, mud of a pool; and "bufo" from Latin, means frog. The species name, bullocki, could be derived from one of several famous naturalists, or from the Old English "Bullock" meaning young bull.


Donoso, D. S., Correa, C., Henriquez, P., Lagos, N. F., and Mendez, M. A. (2010). ''Amphibia, Anura, Calyptocephalellidae, Telmatobufo bullocki Schmidt, 1952: Distribution extension, habitat use and geographic distribution map.'' Check List, 6, 298-300.

Formas, J.R., Núñez, J.J. and Brieva, L.M. (2001). ''Osteología, taxonomía y relaciones filogenéticas de las ranas del género Telmatobufo (Leptodactylidae).'' Revista Chilena de Historia Natural,

Fórmas, J. R. (1988). ''The tadpole of Telmatobufo bullocki (Anura: Leptodactylidae).'' Herpetologica, 44, 458-460.

Safi, K., Armour-Marshall, K., Baillie, J.E.M., Isaac, N.J.B. (2013). ''Global Patterns of Evolutionary Distinct and Globally.'' PLOS One, 8(5), e63582.

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Veloso, A., Núñez, H., Formas, R. (2010). Telmatobufo bullocki. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 11 May 2013.

Originally submitted by: Alexandra E. Collins (first posted 2013-07-31)
Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2013-07-31)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2013 Telmatobufo bullocki: Bullock’s False Toad <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 21, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 21 Jul 2024.

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