World Frog Day 2018: Greninja the Malayan horned frog?

Greninja (c) The Pokemon Company, Malayan Horned Frog photo by Nick Baker | Kelvin Lim

So it’s apparently World Frog Day! There are a whole bunch of frog Pokemon to choose from, but today I be focusing on the most popular Pokemon (in Japan), Greninja!

While Greninja’s body type is more similar to that of one of them South American tree frogs, especially given that lean body and large sucker pads on his toes, his triangular head and fancy head ornaments are more reminiscent of the Malayan horned frog (Megophrys nasuta) which can be found here in Singapore so I’ll go with that.

Okay I admit, definitely more of a tree frog. GIF taken from Super Smash Bros. Also yes, that flapping “scarf” is his tongue, no news yet on whether any real-life frogs use their tongues to keep warm or look like a mysterious edgelord.


Greninja is a ninja, and so is the malayan horned frog. With crazy pointed brow ridges Maleficient would be envious of, when viewed from above in its natural leaf litter habitat, M. nasuta is almost completely invisible.

How they don’t just get stepped on all the time is a question I have. Are they rare cos they get stepped on to death? Photo by Sergei Koultchitskii

It’s also kinda rare in Singapore, but experts cannot confirm if it’s really rare or whether they just don’t want to admit that they’re incredibly lousy at finding these ninja frogs.

Might be worth pointing out that Greninja is a completely broken Pokemon in the competitive scene thanks to its hidden ability, Protean, which allows it to change into the type of whatever attack it uses that turn. This may be a reference to its adaptability and ability to blend with the environment.

greninja smogon
OU stands for Over Used, and Greninja is VERY overused.

The concept of a ninja frog seems kinda random, but definitely not in Japan. Greninja’s inspiration (apart from the RPG class theme he has going on with the other two Kalos starters) appears to be the titular Jiraiya from Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari (児雷也豪傑物語, “The Tale of the Gallant Jiraiya“), a classic Japanese tale from the 1800s about a toad-riding, toad-shifting ninja guy who loves a slug girl and beats up a snake guy. Yeah not random at all.


Jiraiya riding a giant derpy toad, depicted in an 1866 print by artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

Of course nowadays, the name Jiraiya is more often associated with these guys who were also inspired by the same legend.


For more information on amphibians and reptiles, do visit the Herpetological Society of Singapore!

Pokedex (BoS) pages:
– Malayan Horned Frog: Malayan horned frog on the Biodiversity of Singapore

Personal Pokedex: Never met one, but I’ve heard them!


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