AmphibiaWeb - Telmatobius gigas


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Telmatobius gigas Vellard, 1969
family: Telmatobiidae
genus: Telmatobius

© 2014 Arturo Munoz (1 of 4)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status None
Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (4 records).


Large, low head, rounded in profile, with a moderately long snout that is slightly subacuminate. Nares are dorsolateral and not protuberant, positioned either halfway between eye and snout tip, or closer to eyes. Eyes are moderately large and oriented anteriorly. Canthus rostralis is not very distinct. Loreal region is concave. Lips are thick and flared. Vomerine teeth are located between the choanae, with each ridge bearing three small, pointed teeth. Tympanum is lacking. Supratympanic fold is present but short and weakly defined. Postcommissural gland is absent. Fingers are not webbed. Fingertips are slightly enlarged. Finger II has slight lateral fringe. Hindlimbs are relatively short and toes are webbed. Skin is rugose and bears small rounded and flattened pustules. Ventral discoidal fold present. Posterior thigh skin slightly loose. Males have nuptial excrescences consisting of thick pads of small black spicules on the inner surface of Finger I. One male had small keratinized spicules on the chest (de la Riva 2002).

Dorsal surfaces are olive-green with tiny dark spots on small green pustules (two females), or brown with dark irregular lichenous blotching (males). Flanks shade to beige with pale beige-yellowish pustules. Venter is cream with small gray dots (de la Riva 2002).

Telmatobius gigas females differ from sympatric T. marmoratus females in having larger size (T. gigas maximum female SVL is 109 mm, vs. 69 mm in T. “marmoratus” (Vellard, 1953), more robust bodies and shorter hindlimbs, mottled ventral coloration (cream with gray mottling in T. gigas vs. uniformly cream in T. “marmoratus”), dorsal coloration (olive-green with tiny dark spots in female T. gigas vs. gray to brown with or without pattern in female T. "marmoratus") and eyes placed frontally (vs. eyes frontolateral in T. "marmoratus"). Telmatobius gigas males have longer snouts and more flared lips than sympatric T. "marmoratus". In addition, Telmatobius gigas can be distinguished from T. culeus (the other giant form of Telmatobius) by a greater head height, larger eyes, less pointed snout, lack of baggy skin on flanks and limbs, and smaller maximum size (109 mm SVL in female T. gigas vs. 134 mm SVL in female T. culeus) (de la Riva 2002).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Bolivia


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (4 records).
Endemic to Bolivia. Known only from the type locality in the central altiplano of the Bolivian Andes: the canyon of Río Huayllamarca, Cordillera Huayllamnarca, Carangas Province, Oruro Department, at 3,965 m asl. Found in high-elevation streams running through puna grassland habitat (Stuart et al. 2008). Probably present in other suitable sections of the Río Huayllamarca (the parts with stones rather than sandy bottoms) and other streams within the Serranía de Huayllamarca mountain range (de la Riva 2002).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The Río Huayllamarca flows down through a small canyon before reaching the adjacent plain. At the time of collecting the stream was partially dry, with some pools connected by slowly moving water and often having dense green algae. The female neotype and the biggest tadpoles were found in a deeper pool (>1 m) at the foot of a small waterfall area, which was dry (de la Riva 2002).

Tadpoles are the largest recorded for any species of Telmatobius, with the biggest specimen at 109 mm in stage 38. The larval body is oval and depressed. The snout is rounded, with small nostrils that are not raised are located slightly closer to the eye than to the snout tip. The spiracle is sinistral and the vent is dextral. The mouth is anteroventral. The oral disc has a wide rostral gap. Oral papillae are large; ventral marginal papillae are large and conical and present in multiple rows. Beaks are finely serrated. The dorsal and ventral tailfins are roughly equal in height; the dorsal fin does not extend onto the body. The tail tip is rounded (de la Riva 2002).

Trends and Threats
Relatively common at the type locality but declining in numbers. Threats include water pollution from agriculture, habitat loss from the diversion of water to use in crop irrigation, and over-collecting for medicinal use against rheumatism. The type locality (the only known locality) is not within a protected area (Stuart et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

Drainage of habitat
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Intentional mortality (over-harvesting, pet trade or collecting)

This species was described in 1966 (as a giant-sized subspecies of Telmatobius marmoratus) by Vellard, but Vellard's holotype has not been found in museum collections (de la Riva 2002). A neotype was designated in 1998 from specimens collected at the original type locality (de la Riva 2002).


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.

Vellard, J. (1970). ''Contribución al estudio de los batracios andinos.'' Revista del Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”, 10, 1-21.

Vellard, J. 1968 (1969). ''Les Telmatobius du group marmoratus.'' Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, 40, 1110–1113.

de la Riva, I. (2002). ''Rediscovery and taxonomic status of Telmatobius marmoratus gigas Vellard, 1969 ''1968'' (Anura: Leptodactylidae).'' Herpetologica, 58, 220-228.

Originally submitted by: Kellie Whittaker (first posted 2009-11-01)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker, Michelle S. Koo (2023-05-27)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Telmatobius gigas <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 27, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 27 Feb 2024.

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