Pipa pipa
Surinam Toad, Star-fingered Frog
family: Pipidae

© 2008 Dr. Peter Janzen (1 of 13)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Pipa pipa can be identified by its large triangular head, small eyes with rounded pupils, and nostrils found at the end of two narrow tubes on the snout. Its body is flat, brown or olive-colored, and covered by many tubercles. The front limbs are short and weak with long slender fingers, and the hind limbs are long, strong with webbed feet.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
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 2 cm 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, AmphibiaWeb, UC Berkeley
First submitted 2001-02-27
Edited by Arie van der Meijden (2020-09-20)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2020 Pipa pipa: Surinam Toad <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Oct 24, 2020.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2020. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 24 Oct 2020.

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