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It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical swamps, swamps, freshwater marshes, and intermittent freshwater marshes. It is threatened by habitat loss.
The appearance of the Surinam toad is somewhat like a leaf. It is almost completely flat, and is colored in a mottled brown. Their feet are broadly webbed with the front toes having small, star-like appendages. Sizes of close to 20 cm (8 in), have been recorded, even though 10-13 cm (4-5 in) is much more of a typical size. The Surinam toad has minute eyes, no teeth and no tongue.
Surinam toads are best known for their remarkable reproductive habits. Unlike the majority of toads, the males of this species don't attract mates with croaks and other sounds often associated with these aquatic animals. Instead they produce a sharp clicking sound by snapping the hyoid bone in their throat. The partners rise from the floor while in amplexus and flip through the water in arcs. During each arc, the female releases 3–10 eggs, which get embedded in the skin on her back by the male's movements. After implantation the eggs sink into the skin and form pockets over a period of several days, eventually taking on the appearance of an irregular honeycomb. The larvae develop through to the tadpole stage inside these pockets, eventually emerging from the mother's back as fully developed toads, though they are less than an inch long (2 cm). Once they have emerged from their mother's back, the toads begin a largely solitary life.