Pipa pipa can be identified by its large triangualr head, small eyes with rounded pupils, and nostrils found at the end of two narrow tubes on the snout. The body is flat, brown or olive-colored, and covered by many tubercles. The front limbs are short and weak and the hind limbs are long, strong and webbed.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela
Found in sluggish rivers and canals with muddy bottoms throughout South America from Ecuador to Guianas and southward to Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil (Capula 1989)
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Pipa pipa is entirely aquatic living on the muddy bottom of tropical rivers. Using star-shaped tactile organs on its fingertips to detect food, the tongueless Pipa pipa lunges at its prey, consisting mostly of invertebrates. During the process of mating the male fertilizes the eggs and then attaches them to the female's back. The skin of the female then encloses the fertilized eggs. Larval development occurs within the egg and fully metamorphosed individuals approximately 2cm in length emerge from incubation after 3 to 4 months.
Capula, M. (1989). Simon & Schulter's Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of the World. Simon & Schulter Inc., New York.
Written by Gregory Mendez (gregg AT uclink4.berkeley.edu), AmphibiaWeb Volunteer
First submitted 2001-02-27
Edited by Arie van der Meijden (28/2/2001) (2001-02-28)
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2013. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: May 20, 2013).
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.