The Malay tree frog, also known as the long-nosed horned frog, is one of the most remarkable creatures on earth, at least in terms of natural camouflage.
We’ve featured some really formidable masters of camouflage in the past, from the dead leaf butterfly to a plant that evolved to mimic the rocky terrain it grows on, but the Malay tree frog is definitely the best of them. As an ambush hunter waiting for unsuspecting prey to cross its path, this amphibian needs to go unnoticed for as long as possible, and what better way to do that than blend in with the leafy forest floor it calls home? Due to its unique physical properties, it is nearly impossible to visually identify it in its natural habitat. If you look at the photos below, you can easily see why.
Photo: Bernard DUPONT / Flickr
With triangular horn- or leaf-like protrusions extending over each eye and nose, plus the brown color of dead leaves with the veins and patterns of a leaf, the Malay tree frog is easy to mistake for a dead leaf on the forest floor.
Except when calling, these amazing frogs blend in well with their surroundings, helping them both catch unsuspecting prey and avoid predators.
Researchers have reported the difficulty of spotting tree frogs during the day because they tend to hide between dead leaves and remain perfectly still. However, the exact opposite is true at night, as the light from flashlights easily reflects off his eyes, revealing his location.
The Malay tree frog lives in the midst of leaf litter in the permanently moist and cool lowland rainforests of southern Thailand, the Malaysia peninsula to Singapore, Sumatra and Borneo. Because its habitat covers such a large area, the leaf-like frog population is believed to be very large. However, deforestation is already seen as a major threat to its very existence as it results in habitat loss.
The pet trade is also a threat to the survival of the Malay tree frogs. The species is very popular with amphibian enthusiasts, and since efforts to breed these frogs reliably in captivity have so far failed, specimens are continually being taken from the wild.
For more amazing natural camouflage, check out this moth, whose wings reveal two flies feeding on fresh bird droppings. This is said to help keep predators at bay.