Some of my favourite animals to blog about are those that are masters of camouflage. There’s just something so impressive about looking at a picture of an animal and not being able to see it right away. Of course, sometimes it’s obvious where the animal is in the picture, because it’s a picture, and you know the animal is there. Still, I like to imagine I’m in the creature’s native habitat. In that case, I’m sure I’d never find any camouflaged animals. I’d be a terrible field biologist. Anyway, today’s animal is one such master, the Malayan horned frog.

As their common name suggests, the Malayan horned frog lives in and around Malaysia, ranging from the foothills of the Himalayas to Indonesia. They live in rain forests, and always stay on the forest floor or in water. It is here, on the forest floor, that the Malayan horned frog’s specialty comes into play.

A Malayan horned frog, showing off its horniness. Image By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE – Malayan Horned Frog Megophrys nasuta, CC BY-SA 2.0

Malayan horned frogs are about 12 cm long, with females being much larger than males. The frogs are characterized by their large angular head, with projections over their eyes and nose. This, along with their grey-brown colouring, makes the frog look like dead leaves on the forest floor. When the frog sits still on the forest floor, it’s pretty much invisible.

That’s how Malayan frogs hunt; they sit there, still as a statue, until some poor creature wanders by. The frogs then jump onto the prey and engulf it. These frogs will eat pretty much anything they can catch, but seem to eat a lot of scorpions and crabs, which form the bulk of their diet. Other items of food include arachnids, young rodents, lizards and other frogs.

Tadpoles with their mouths at the waters surface. They let their bodies hang vertically and just sit there feeding on microorganisms. Pretty weird. Image By BrokenSphere – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

How males and females breed in the wild is largely unknown, but once mated, the females lay their eggs on the underside of rocks and logs that touch water. Eggs that touch the surface of the water hatch into tadpoles and start their life’s adventure. Those eggs that are too high above the water slide to the water on thin threads of egg covering. The tadpoles themselves are even weirder; they have a large funnel-like mouth, which they use to cling to the waters surface. They do this because they feed on microbes at the surface, but it’s got to look really strange.

Malayan horned frogs are excellent camouflagers, something I always admire in an animal. Maybe one day I’ll go to Malaysia and not see a horned frog. You never know.

Cover image By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE – Malayan Leaf Frog (Megophrys nasuta), CC BY-SA 2.0