The Myth Of The "Singing Snakes" Turns Out To Be A New Frog Species


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

The newly discovered tree frog species Tepuihyla shushupe. Pablo Venegas CC-BY 4.0

According to the legends told by the natives and the tales told by the European colonists, corners of Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador and Peru are home to a bushmaster viper that fills the night with eerie shrieking songs

But scientists weren’t particularly content with the idea, being that – you know – snakes don't generally sing. So they took to the Amazonian Ecuador and Peru in the hopes of unraveling the myth with an ensemble of scientists from Catholic University of Ecuador, the Peruvian Institute of Research of the Amazon, Ecuadorian Museum of Natural Sciences, and Colorado State University in the US.


Disappointingly, no singing snakes were found during the field study. They did, however, find that the source of the “song” was two species of tree frog, one of which is unknown to science. Their study on the frog’s DNA, appearance, and identification was published in the journal ZooKeys.

The new species belongs to the genus Tepuihyla, with its full name being Tepuihyla shushupe – the "shushupe" bit coming from the native people’s word for bushmaster. An adult male frog only measures around 8.53 centimeters (3.35 inches) in length, but it can pump out some serious tunes. They even managed to catch an audio recording of “the song”, which you can listen to right here. Think ambient electronic music.


  • tag
  • new species,

  • frog,

  • amazon,

  • rainforest,

  • myth,

  • legend,

  • Amazonian rainforest