Pelobatrachus – Clay horned toads

Remarkable for their evolutionary adaptations to remain hidden in plain sight

This genus, often referred to as horned frogs for their distinctive facial projections, includes some of the most fascinating amphibians found in Asia. These frogs are renowned for their incredible camouflage abilities, mimicking the leaf litter and moss of their forest environments to evade predators and ambush prey.

Pelobatrachus frogs are medium to large-sized, with some species reaching up to 12 cm (5 in) in length. Their most striking feature is their elongated and pointed snout, which resembles a leaf, aiding them in blending seamlessly with their surroundings. The skin of these frogs is often rough and warty, mimicking the texture of leaves and rocks, with colors ranging from dark browns to greens and grays. Their eyes are small and positioned so that they can peek out from under debris without revealing their bodies.

These frogs are primarily found in the dense, humid forests of Southeast Asia, including countries like China, India, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. They thrive in cool, moist environments, often at mid to high elevations in the mountains, where they can be found among leaf litter, in crevices, or near streams and waterfalls. Their diet mainly consists of insects such as ants, beetles, and flies. They are sit-and-wait predators; using their camouflage, they remain motionless until an unsuspecting prey approaches. Once in range, they strike with surprising speed, using their large, sticky tongues to capture the prey.