The surinam toad (also called “suriname toad”) is a weird-looking toad living in the Amazon Rain forest of South America. Although this animal is called a toad, it is actually a frog. These frogs are entirely aquatic and rarely, if ever, go out of the slow-moving streams, rivers, or ponds they call home. Surinam toads have tiny, upward-pointing, black eyes on the top part of their body, which ranges from gray to brown in color. On the bottom side, these animals are a paler color than on the top part of their body. They get the first part of their name from one of the countries they live in: Suriname. Surinam toads can grow up to 8 inches (20 cm) long, but the males are slightly smaller than the females. Unlike other frogs and toads which have an almost constant squatting position, the surinam toad almost always lies down with its arms and legs splayed out. Sometimes while in this position, these frogs look almost like a dead leaf and are camouflaged against any potential predators or prey.
These animals have very strong hind legs which they use for swimming. The hind feet are also webbed, making these frogs an even better swimmer. The front feet (or hands) are not webbed, and each of the frog’s fingers has a star-shaped organ on the tip. The frog aids from these sensory organs by using them to feel food. Once a frog feels its next meal, the front “hands” are used to sweep the food, which consists of small fish and invertebrates, into a hungry frog’s mouth. Although this method of eating may make it seem like these frogs have bad table manners, it is one of the best ways for a frog to eat if it doesn’t have a tongue to catch its food with.
A deep breath
Surinam toads, since they live underwater, were created with the ability to easily stay underwater for half an hour without taking a breath. They have even been observed to not take a breath for over an hour and still survive! These frogs are thought to be able to stay submersed for this long by drawing oxygen from the water, similar to fish.
One of the most interesting aspects about this animal is the way they breed. Breeding period starts when the water level rises and the temperature of the water starts getting colder. Males will make fast clicking sounds to attract any females that are ready to mate. When any female comes near, the male will grab onto her. The female will then release up to ten eggs which the male sweeps onto the female’s back using his hind feet. He also fertilizes the eggs at this time. This process will continue until the female has laid up to 100 eggs.
After all the eggs have been laid, the male will leave and the female will stay still for a while. During this time, the eggs will settle into the spongy skin on the female’s back. In not too long, the skin will completely enclose the eggs. The female can then move around as normal and not have to worry about the eggs falling off. For the next twelve to twenty weeks, the baby toads will form in their mother’s back.
Once they are ready, the froglets will all jump out of their mom’s back. These froglets are fully formed and about 2 inches (2 cm) long. After this weird birth, the female will shed her then-ragged skin. The tiny frogs are immediately able to eat, but they still stay near the surface for the first month until they are able to swim like an adult. Although not much is known about this animal’s life span in the wild, in captivity surinam toads live to be around 7 years.
Occasionally fights will break out between two males arguing over territory. In these instances, the males will click as they do when attracting females, but at these times they will only do one click at a time. Some fights get physical and include head-butting, biting and kicking.
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- Animals of the world. Tom Jackson, ISBN: 978-1780191089
- Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide. David Burnie and Don E. Wilson, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN: 978-0-7566-6002-4
- Surinam toad:Hugo Claessen
- Mystery animal: Shell Kinney