You likely won’t ever see one in the wild, and that’s just how the mossy frog prefers it to be.
When we look at the true masters of disguise in the world of animals, the clear winners are usually the frogs. While there are more than a few species who could compete for the title of “best dressed,” they just don’t get much cooler than the Vietnamese Mossy frog. It has been said that the Mossy frog has the most elaborate camouflage in the animal kingdom. One look at this fascinating species, it’s easy to see why!
The common name “mossy frog” arises from the fact that its skin is a mottled green and brown that resembles moss growing on rock, and forms an effective form of camouflage. This is one of the reasons they are so difficult to spot, and why most people never see these creatures.
Another reason is their calls. Vietnamese mossy frogs can throw their voices up to 10 to 13 feet (3 to 4 meters), making it extremely difficult to find them in the wild.
Native to rivers and streams of northern Vietnam, these amphibians are known for having black, red and green colorations along with an uneven, bumpy texture that enables them to essentially disappear into the background of their natural forest habitats; therefore keeping them safe from predators. Adding to their impressive camouflage? When frightened, they will roll into a ball and play dead. This formation allows them to look like a clump of moss instead of a delicious snack for a predator.
As with most Tree frog species, the females will grow larger than the males and can reach sizes of 2.5 – 3.5 inches. The sticky discs at the end of each toe makes them skillful tree climbers, and their large, bright eyes give them a broad range of vision.
Currently, their habitat is receding due to deforestation and tourism. And, unfortunately, the international trade for these little guys is booming. It shouldn’t have to be said, but it’s best for the species, and for the individual animal itself, if you don’t keep them in captivity. Certain zoos have enacted breeding programs to help the populations in certain areas, but they usually don’t live more than 5 years, compared to more than twice that when in their natural environment.