Surinam Toad, Pipa pipa

The Surinam Toad or Star-Fingered Toad, Pipa pipa, is a species of frog belonging to the Pipidae family.

It can be found in Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, French Guiana, Suriname, Peru, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, tropical or subtropical swamps, freshwater marshes, swamps, and sporadic freshwater marshes. Loss of habitat is the main threat to this toad.

This toad appears similar to a leaf. It’s almost totally flat, and the coloration is a mottled brown. Their feet are mostly webbed with the front toes having small and star-like appendages. These toads have had sizes recorded of close to 8 inches, even though 4 to 5 inches is much more typical. It has tiny eyes, no tongue, and no teeth.

These toads are best known for their extraordinary reproductive habits. Unlike most toads, the males of this species do not attract mates with croaks and other sounds frequently associated with these aquatic animals. Instead, they give off a sharp clicking sound by snapping the hyoid bone in their throat. The partners rise up from the floor while in amplexus and flip through the water in arcs. During each arc, the female discharges 3 to 10 eggs, which get embedded in the skin on her back by the movement of the male. After implantation, the eggs sink into the skin and create pockets over a period of several days, ultimately embracing the appearance of an abnormal honeycomb. The larvae develop to the tadpole stage inside these pockets, ultimately budding from the mother’s back as fully developed toads, though they’re less than an inch long. As soon as they emerge from the mother’s back, the toads initiate a largely solitary life.

Image Caption: The gray shape is the Suriname toad. Photo of Pipa pipa (Surinam toad) at the Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco. Credit: Stan Shebs/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)