Giovedì, 18 Febbraio 2016 20:44 | Meet the female Surinam toad: Birthing on repeat out of holes in its back

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Cape Town - Imagine giving birth multiple times, alone in the wild, out of little holes in your back. Not the average traveller's daily fantasy and not something you'd wish upon

that annoying and rude tourist you encountered on the Red Bus.

Well, this is exactly what female Surinam toads, scientifically known as Pipa Pipa, experiences multiple times in her lifetime.

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This serves as a simple reminder of how wonderful and truly creepy nature can be.

While she may not be the, um, sexiest amphibian out there - what some might even describe as an 'evolutionary accident' says Ross Piper, author of Extraordinary Animals she certainly is a tough solo female traveller.

Here are 8 facts about the life and mating process of the female Surinam

A photo posted by ?? (@58me111) on

Where is she from?

A resident of the Amazon region - If you try hard to find them, they are usually hiding at the bottom of muddy rivers and lakes in Peru, Guyana, Surinam and Brazil explains Piper.

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What does she look like?

Males and females grow up to 20cm long and are flat muddy brown colours with long thin arms and webbed feet and triangular flat heads, explains Richard D. Bartlett in Frogs, Toads, and Treefrogs.

Don't expect to hear are... she's not much of a talker

The Surinam toads do not croak or make sounds as they do not have vocal chords, vocal sacks (#nodoublechin) or tongues.

When it is mating season, the male Surinam 'simply' makes a snapping sound with the delicate hyoid bones in his throat to get the lady's attention - sounds painful...

The female Surinam will come and investigate the noise and is she likes what she finds - phase one of the mating game is complete.

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You have to be fit to keep up with the gal
Phase two is not so simple - The male toads mount the female and hangs on to her body for dear life as all hell breaks loose with a series of flips, somersaults and water aerobics from the very powerful swimmers, what Piper describes as 'a series of dare-devil -loop-the-loops'.

Eventually, the female will release her eggs onto the male's stomach and he will fertilise them. They will eventually fall into the many holes on the females back.

A photo posted by Jesse Dierksen (@skunk.ape) on

Underwater cuddlers of note

Phase three - Once the eggs fertilised eggs are lodged in the holes on the female's back - the male hugs and squeezes her closely to secure them in her skin. The toads then 'cuddle' tightly for up to twelve hours until momma's back is nice and swollen and the eggs are firmly inside.

Why she is the Miss 'honeycomb' of the under world

Once the eggs are secure, the female Surinam ventures off on her own. The eggs carry on growing for the next ten days until momma's back looks like a tight honeycomb 'each containing a developing toadlet'.

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12-20 weeks of baby travel under her belt

The pregnancy lasts for 12 to 20 weeks - after which the young escape from the mother's back in the most bizarre birthing scene ever. They are born perfect mini Surinams in both manners and look.

Wine and dine her right

She really is the ultimate meat eater of the toads - known to gobble down any living thing that crosses its path, such as tadpoles, earthworms, small fish and other annoying or tantalizing looking Surinams.

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Sadly the Surinam and its close relatives the African Claw toad remain a favourite for scientific testing. It has also become popular for humans to keep them in tanks and small containers as pets - a complete disservice to this wonderfully mysterious toad, who thrives alone and free in the depths of the wild.

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