Behavior: Under natural conditions the animal has not been observed surfacing to breath air. Allen (1922) claimed that it was typically observed on the lake bottom and never found out of water. Authors have frequently commented on its sedentary nature (Garman 1876, Allen 1922). When oxygen in the water is experimentally reduced, the frogs will move to the surface and place their nostrils above water to ventilate their lungs. Telmatobius culeus will remain in this position until the dissolved oxygen content increases to an acceptable level (Hutchison et al. 1976). If the animal is prevented from reaching the surface under hypoxic conditions they will remain on the bottom and stand with limbs and digits extended (presumably to maximize surface area exposed to water). The frog will then bob vigorously approximately every six seconds by pushing up with its hindlimbs until its entire body lifts off of the substrate. It will then slowly sink back to the bottom (Hutchison et al 1976). This motion causes the skin flaps to wave back and forth, likely breaking up or minimizing the boundary layer of oxygen-depleted water surrounding the animal (Hutchison et al. 1976; Pinder and Feder 1990). This rocking behavior is similar to that seen in Cryptobranchus alleganiensis (Hutchison et al. 1976).
Diet: Telmatobius culeus eats aquatic animals including tadpoles, fish, mollusks, and crustaceans (Allen 1922; Garman 1876). Allen (1922) reported finding a 100mm long fish in the stomach of one individual.
Auditory communication: There is no published data on auditory communication in T culeus. The absence of a vocal sac and its aquatic habitat indicates that they do not call. The lack of auditory signals may be characteristic of the genus (Trueb 1979).
Defense behavior: This species will secrete a milky mucous when handled or harassed (Allen 1922).
Predators: Telmatobius is preyed upon by fish. Garman (1876) proposed that birds prey on the species, but Allen (1922) failed to confirm this.
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