Vietnamese Mossy Frog
Scientific Name: Theloderma corticale
Mossy frogs earn their name. When frightened they roll into a ball and play dead, allowing their unique bumpy red, green, and black skin to look just like a clump of moss.
Also called the Tonkin bug-eyed frog, these amphibians are so cryptically colored that they spend their days hiding in plain sight, relying on their camouflage to allow them to disappear into the background. They become active at night, hunting along river and stream banks in the mountains of Vietnam.
STATUS: Clear cutting of the forests where mossy frogs live is a danger to the species, as is collection for the international illegal pet trade. Even so, the IUCN has insufficient data to determine if their population is shrinking enough to list them as threatened.
HABITAT: Found near streams, rivers, and small bodies of fresh water in the Vietnamese highlands, the mossy frog favors evergreen rainforests growing on steep, rocky terrain.
DIET: Mossy frogs, like most anurans, are strictly carnivorous. They take a variety of insects and invertebrates, and can swallow prey up to the size of the width of their heads.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Theloderma corticale measures 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) from snout to vent, with a torso almost as wide as it is long. The profile is flat, making the frog look almost exactly like a clump of moss when at rest under the waterline or on a piece of bark on the shore. The skin is covered with protrusions and tubercles and patterned like a mossy stone. The eyes are large and protuberant, giving the frog a “bug-eyed” look from some angles.
A Frog Out of Water
Unlike many amphibians that lay their eggs in rivers or ponds attached to floating vegetation or submerged stones, the mossy frog lays hers above the waterline instead. The eggs hatch in about two weeks, dropping the new tadpoles with a splash. This protects the young from aquatic predators until they have developed enough to be mobile.