Surinam Toads are perhaps the most strange and bizarre exotic amphibian species on exhibit at ECHO. Found in the Amazon region of South America, they live amongst suspended sediments, rotting leaves and other organic matter in muddy streams and slow moving rivers. Eyes are of little use in this habitat. Securing food for this carnivorous species is more about feeling its prey than seeing it. Tiny cups on their fingertips sense vibrations in the water from passing prey. When prey is detected, a Surinam opens its cavernous mouth and uses its oversized rear webbed feet and, in a heartbeat, lunges at and devours its prey. At ECHO, we prefer to feed night crawlers to Surinams. Night crawlers are less apt to carry pathogens and are more nutritious than fish. However, the challenge with any captive species is converting dietary intake from natural prey items to a preferred captive food item. In this video, Tessa, one of ECHO's Animal Care Specialists, is successfully feeding a night crawler, for the first time, to a Surinam Toad.
Why exotic frogs at ECHO? Part of ECHO’s mission is to share opportunities for stewardship and our impact on our environment. Our native wildlife collection helps with our mission as it relates to the Lake Champlain Basin. Our exotic frogs help with our mission as it relates to our worldwide impact on our environment. For example, if we purchase materials made from natural resources in the Amazon basin, optimally, it would be great if we knew if these resources were sustainably harvested so as not to adversely impact animals like Surinam Toads. Why should we care? Amphibians eat insects and as you’d probably agree, we have more than enough of those in our lives; anything that consumes them is more than welcomed in our shared habitat.