Acquired: Online breeder / seller
New York, United States
Posted Dec 27, 2010
Surinam Toads use one of the animal world's oddest egg-incubating methods - during a circular mating "dance" the female lays eggs that become embedded in the skin of her back. Skin soon grows over the eggs, and the tadpoles develop in pockets there. After 100 days or so, 100 or more tiny frogs (Surinam toads are not true toads) push through the skin of her back and swim away (this holds for Pipa pipa, the most commonly available species-in others, the tadpoles break out of the skin after hatching).
I was lucky enough to breed them - it is possible, but a tank or enclosure of 3-4 feet in depth is necessary.
Unfortunately, there are downsides to keeping these most interesting animals. Most are wild-caught and heavily parasitized - without treatment, a large percentage die. They are also sensitive to water quality (they are entirely aquatic), particularly ammonia, and so excellent filtration and routine water changes are vital. They accept live food only, fish and earthworms, and have a tendency to swallow gravel - substrate size is a critical concern.
Surinam Toads are easily stressed but do not show outward signs of this, which leads to unexplained fatalities. They do best in a large, well-planted aquarium...a 30 long style can hold 1-2 adults, but more room is always better.
They make wonderful exhibits due to their unique appearance and tendency to remain out in the open. They are, however, not active, preferring to wait for food to pass within striking range...then they lunge forward with lightening speed, stuffing the fish into their huge mouths with the help of their star-tipped fingers (the "stars" are sensory organs).
Please see my 3 part article on Surinam Toad Care and my other on Breeding Surinam Toads for more info, and feel free to write in with questions. These interesting fellows are well-worth trying if you have some expereince, as we have much to learn about them - and of course you could not ask for a more interesting breeding project!
Photo referenced from Wikipedia and first posted by Dien Freund der Baum