They are 6 to 8 inches long with a darkish gray-brown to black ,mottled body which is flattened and rectangular in shape. the head is triangular with flaps of skin on jaws. Fingers are free with a tactile organ shaped like a rayed star on tips. The Surinam toad has large powerful rear legs with webbed toes which are clawless. Tiny black eyes are lidless and appear to have been put in the wrong place. Upper surface covered with small, pointed protuberances. Ventral surface has two “seams”, dark gray lines running up midline and across throat region. Female has an extended, slightly tubular ovipositor.
Amazon region in South America, Peru, Guyana, Surinam, Brazil. Neotropics, in oxygen-deficient, muddy, turbid, even polluted water. Live on the bottom and surface for air.
Stimulated by raising water level and sudden drop in water temperature. Males call underwater with clicking. Animals become active, milling around and quivering if they contact another. Male holds female in front of the hind legs. They both swim upwards and over in a somersault.
With her back near the water surface, the female deposits 60 to 100 eggs. They are fertilized by the male and distributed over the back of the female. Eggs adhere and sink into the sponge-like dorsal skin. Within 24 hours, the female’s back begins to swell around the eggs. By 10 days, each egg will be embedded in a chamber, producing a “honeycomb” on female’s back. They remain on her back until fully metamorphosed (12 to 20 weeks), then push out through the membranes covering the pockets. Young are cannibalistic and have no gills or tails (reabsorbed during development).
Live fish, eaten in a forward attack when contacted by its fingertips.
The Complete Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium. Fritz Jurgen Obst, Dr. Klaus Richter, and Dr. Udo Jacob. Translated by U.E. Friese. Neptune City, New Jersey: T.F.H. Publications Inc., 1988.
The Care of Reptiles and Amphibians in Captivity. Christopher Mattison. Dorset: Blandford Books Ltd., 1982.