Suriname Toad (Pipa pipa) Care Sheet
The suriname toad is also commonly called the surinam toad and star-fingered toad. It's star-fingered toad nickname is likely derived from the front toes having small, star-like appendages. All of its feet are broadly webbed. These frogs are unique in appearance and behavior. They look like a brown leaf and are extremely flat. Their reproductive means is bizarre under normal circumstances. These frogs give birth to live young, which exit out of their backs.
Suriname toads are a species of frog that inhabits subtropical-tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical-tropical swamps, and freshwater marshes in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
Temperament - Handling
This species is not very exciting to watch and will remain almost motionless, except when feeding. They are easily stressed but with an animal so expressionless, it is not visibly noticeable. You should only handle your suriname when necessary for moving it or for health and medical reasons. This species is better suited for people interested in viewing opposed to touching.
Habitat - Enclosure
Suriname toads are highly aquatic and live in murky ponds and swamps. These toads grow between 4-8 inches long. An adult standing up on their hind legs can reach the top of a 10 gallon aquarium. For this reason, these frogs (all toads are frogs) should be kept in larger tanks. A 20 gallon tall is suitable for a single adult whereas a pair would be more comfortable in a 30 gallon tank. The deeper the tank is, the better off your toads will be. This species will attempt to escape by jumping from the water. For this reason you will need to ensure that you have a strong and secure lid on the tank with locking mechanisms in place.
These frogs are aggressive feeders and are known to ingest their substrate. You will want to avoid easily consumed substrates, or simply avoid using one all together. Many people have had success with large river rocks, removing any that appear to be digestible. Ideally you want to choose a substrate color that contrasts the color of your toad. Since these frogs are designed to blend into the murky bottoms of their natural environments, a contrast in color will make them more visible.
Sunken driftwood offers your frog the ability to burrow itself beneath them, which is a normal behavior for the species. Plants, both artificial and live, can be used to help add some color and additional hiding spots.
A filter suitable of moving the volume of water in the tank can be used or you can do frequents water changes every few days. between the waste secreted by the frog and their dietary needs, a filter would make sense to help keep the water clean and regulated.
These toads will eat whatever they can fit in their mouths, including cage mates. They have a voracious appetite, which is why gravels and sands should be avoided as substrates. Their method of consumption will often stuff or suck in debris and there are documented cases of the species having necropsies done and finding vast amounts of sand and small rock impactions. Surinames will readily eat earthworms and night-crawlers, feeder fish, brine shrimp, soft bodied feeder worms like waxworms and butter worms and crickets. Feeder fish (supplemented with worms/night-crawlers) are easiest to supply as they can be added to the tank and fed until they are consumed. This doesn't typically take long with the appetite these frogs have. Variety will help ensure that their nutritional requirements are being met.
This species does best around 78°. You can maintain these temperatures with a basic aquarium heater and thermometer.
No special lighting is required though a normal aquarium light can be used for creating a photoperiod and for observation of the species.
Females can be distinguished from males by a ring-shaped swelling at the cloaca, that is visible when the animals are ready to breed. The males will make a clicking sound to attract a female and this can be used to positively identify the males. males can be slightly smaller than females but this doesn't prove to be a reliable method for sexing unless used in concert with the aforementioned suggestions.
As discussed in the sexing section, females have a ring-shaped swelling at the cloaca when they are ready to breed. The male, when he is ready, will begin making a clicking sound by snapping the hyoid bone in his throat. This is the time to place the male and female together.
It is suggested that the breeding pair be placed in large tubs or garbage cans for their mating ritual. This is because once the male and female are in amplexus they will begin to swim in a series of circular loops or arches. These arches - loops require enough space to complete the full motion. As they spin around the female releases eggs and the male fertilizes them and helps manipulate them on her back. Her back is spongy and the eggs appear as pockets in her skin, similar to an obscure honeycomb pattern. This embrace can last for hours and days. Once the male has finished fertilizing the eggs and manipulating them, the females skin will grow over the openings quickly to protect the developing babies. She will carry the babies in these openings until they have developed into froglets. Unlike other species, the tadpole stage is never seen. When the babies are ready to emerge, they will use their feet to punch through the soft skin. Once ready (12-20 weeks), they will completely exit the opening and swim off to live on their own.
There are no egg rearing techniques for this species because the female acts as both the incubator and rearing tank. This species gives birth to froglets/toadlets that are completely formed when they make their way out into the world. The picture above shows the toads emerging from their mothers back. They are miniature versions of their parents. The babies will readily feed on minced up blackworms, earthworms, brine shrimp, etc. if it can fit in their mouth, they will eat it.
Suriname Toads have no tongue.
Suriname toads reach sexual maturity around 3 years of age.