Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Can you tell what this is?


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Since I met my first Pipa pipa (Suriname Toad) I have been completely enamored with this species. Their huge flat bodies, their bizarre courting, breeding and reproductive behavior, the fact that tiny Pipas pop out of mom’s back — the list goes on and on — Right down to the wackadoodle star-shaped fingertip lobes on each of the creepy fingers.

Using SEM, one can see that each lobe of the star-shaped lobes branches out into 4 more star-shaped lobes — and so on, and so on — maximizing the surface area for still yet unknown reasons. They definitely use their fingers to detect prey — you can observe them rooting around in the substrate locating food — but are there receptors at the ends of these lobes? Are they chemoreceptive? Gustatory? Electroreceptive? … fascinating.

Pipids lack tongues and teeth! They capture and transport prey through a mechanism called suction feeding. As the name implies, suction feeders engulf prey with the surrounding water and must expel the water back out of their mouth after the prey is consumed. It is fascinating to watch. Yes, I just used the word fascinating twice. As part of our request to develop our captive breeding collection, as well as our education and outreach collections, many fine and established reptile stores, private breeders and hobbyists have donated animals to the Amphibian Foundation such as Reigning Reptiles and Rainbows by Design. John Wiseman (of Rainbows by Design) was able to elicit this donation of a pair of Pipas.

The male has been calling for a few days now. I love their call — It sounds like someone gently tapping a quarter on the side of the aquarium. Maybe this summer, we will take a crack at breeding them in our outdoor mesocosms! The Amphibian Foundation is still setting up our research and education labs and needs help! We are still looking to increase our membership base. Memberships support the foundation including our conservation initiatives and can be made in any amount - in your name or you can give the gift of membership to another. #Pipapipa #SurinameToad #AmphibianFoundation #TheAmphibianFoundation