AmphibiaWeb - Telmatobius cirrhacelis


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Telmatobius cirrhacelis Trueb, 1979
Loja Water Frog
family: Telmatobiidae
genus: Telmatobius
Species Description: Trueb, L. (1979). ''Leptodactylid Frogs of the Genus Telmatobius in Ecuador with the Description of a New Species.'' Copeia, 1979(4), 714-733.
Telmatobius cirrhacelis
© 2010 Division of Herpetology, University of Kansas (1 of 1)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Critically Endangered (CR)
National Status None
Regional Status None
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


Berkeley mapper logo

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Telmatobius cirrhacelis is a medium sized frog, and was described with a snout-vent length of 49.6 to 68.7 mm in females, and 56.6 mm in males. This species was described from two female specimens, and a single male specimen. The head is similar in shape to a toad’s with a dull, smooth snout that steeply slopes downwards. The width of its head is over twice than that of its length. This species lacks a tympanum. Nostrils are not prominent and closer to the eyes than to the mouth. The eyes are large, with a diameter that is over a third of the head length. The forelimbs are fairly stout, with many tubercles on its hands, and spherical fingertips. The hand has two distinct palmer tubercles. All four digits of the forelimb have distinct subarticular tubercles, while the third and fourth digits also have distal subarticular tubercles. The relative finger lengths are as follows, from longest to shortest: 3 > 4 > 1 > 2. The hind limbs are very long, with a length longer than of its snout-to-vent length. The toes are long with some webbing between the digits. At most, the webbing is 2/3 the length of the digits. The relative toe lengths are as follows, from longest to shortest: 4 > 3 > 5 > 2 > 1. The tips of the toes are smaller than the fingertips, and are also spherical. The inner metatarsal tubercle is small, ovoid, and indented. The outer metatarsal tubercle is half the size of the inner metatarsal tubercle and less distinct. The first and second digits have one subarticular tubercle, the third and fifth digits have two, and the fourth digit has three. Tubercles are present on the underside of the thighs. The rest of the skin is smooth. The cloaca is round (Trueb 1979).

Live specimens of T. cirrhacelis are most easily distinguished from other Telmatobius by the orange spots on their dorsum. They also differ from other members of their genus in their long hind limbs with reduced webbing, and head shape resembling a toad’s (Trueb 1979).

In life, the skin is brown, with the flanks, limbs, and anterior portions being more olive-brown. The underside is pale orange and grey. The dorsum has conspicuous orange spots, for which the species is named. These spots are also present on the dorsal side of the limbs. In preservative, its backside is red brown and somewhat blotchy. Its hands, feet, and the outer part of its limbs are a bit greyer with more discrete blotching (Trueb 1979).

Males have longer hind limbs than females, and have more darkly colored flanks. Females do not possess the supernumerary palmer tubercle that males have. The first and second fingers of the female are almost equal in length, while there is a greater difference in the lengths of the male's fingers (Trueb 1979).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Ecuador

Berkeley mapper logo

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Telmatobius cirrhacelis is endemic to the forested Loja-Zamora Ridge Andes in southern Ecuador. It occurs in streams and ponds, and occupies an elevational range of 2,700 to 2,850 m (Trueb 1979).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Telmatobius cirrhacelis has not been observed since 1987. There is only one population of T. cirrhacelis on the Loja-Zamora ridge, which has been in drastic decline since it was first described. Telmatobius cirrhacelis is an aquatic species of frog that inhabits and likely reproduces in streams. It has been observed during the day hiding under rocks, and is active at night (Merino-Viteri et al. 2005, Trueb 1979).

Trends and Threats
Telmatobius cirrhacelis is critically endangered, and its population continues to decline due to habitat loss and an extremely small occurrence range of around 100km2 (Merino-Viteri et al. 2005). Its population has also apparently suffered from the spread of chytridiomycosis (Rohr et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Loss of genetic diversity from small population phenomena

The species authority is: Trueb, L. (1979). "Leptodactylid Frogs of the Genus Telmatobius in Ecuador with the Description of a New Species." Copeia, 1979(4), 714-733.

Although originally described in the Leptodactylidae family, the phylogeny of T. cirrhacelis has been revised. Telmatobius is now the only genus within the family Telmatobiidae (Pyron and Wiens 2011).

Its name comes from the Greek "kirrhos" and "kelis", which translate to orange and spot respectively, in reference to the orange spots on its back (Trueb 1979).


Merino-Viteri, A. Coloma, L. A. Ron, S. (2010). Telmatobius cirrhacelis. The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Version 2014.3. Downloaded in May 2015.

Merino-Viteri, A., Coloma, L. A., Almendáriz, A. (2005). ''Los Telmatobius (Leptodactylidae) de los Andes de Ecuador y su disminución poblacional.'' Monografías de Herpetología, 7, 9-37.

Pyron, R.A., Wiens, J. (2011). ''A large-scale phylogeny of Amphibia including over 2800 species, and a revised classification of extant frogs, salamanders, and caecilians.'' Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 61(2), 543-583.

Rohr, J. R., Raffel, T. R., Romansic, J. M., McCallum, H., Hudson, P. J. (2008). ''Evaluating the links between climate, disease spread, and amphibian declines.'' Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105, 17436–17441.

Trueb, L. (1979). ''Leptodactylid Frogs of the Genus Telmatobius in Ecuador with the Description of a New Species.'' Copeia, 1979(4), 714-733.

Originally submitted by: Samuel Malone (first posted 2015-06-16)
Edited by: Gordon Lau (2023-02-26)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Telmatobius cirrhacelis: Loja Water Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 14, 2024.

Feedback or comments about this page.


Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 14 Jul 2024.

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.