These colorful primates get their name from the Vietnamese word for a torch: đuốc. They’re canopy dwellers, so you might have to strain your neck to find them high up in the jungles of central Vietnam. When you find one, though, there will be others nearby, as they live in groups of 4-15. The current population of doucs at Sơn Trà numbers about 1,300 and zoologists say they have the most beautiful colors of their species.
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To catch a glance at these monkeys, you’ll need to head up into the northern mountains of Vietnam. They live in groups of up to 600 members, splitting up into smaller groups during winter. They are territorial and will use their wide vocal range to scare off anything they consider a threat.
With a large casque on its beak, the Great Hornbill is one weird-looking bird. The protrusion serves no evident purpose, and scientists believe it likely grew as a result of sexual selection. Whatever the casque is for, the Great Hornbill is a bird you’ll have no trouble recognizing.
©Luong Thai Linh / EPA
These bears are also known as “Honey Bears” because the sweet, sticky goo makes up a large part of their diet. They have a distinctive crescent patch on their chests, and they are one of the smallest bears in the world, measuring just 120-150cm (47-59 in) in length. But don’t mistake their size for docility, because they’re known to react violently when surprised.
Pygmy Slow Loris
This cute creature has big eyes and it crawls along at a meager pace, hunting at night for insects, fruits, sap, and nectar. They get to the sap in trees by drilling a hole in the bark with their sharp teeth. When they’re threatened, they freeze, which is adorable. Unfortunately, this makes them easy targets for hunters and poachers.
Asian Water Monitor
These large monitor lizards live near water and can grow up to two meters long. They have even been caught in Ho Chi Minh City, lurking around the canals and rivers in search of rodents, fish, crabs, and birds to eat. Their powerful tails make them great swimmers, but they also use them to whip threats. Since they aren’t on the endangered species list, people often hunt them to make fashion accessories out of their skin.
Phu Quoc Ridgeback
This rare dog breed is native to Phu Quoc, an island off the southern coast near Cambodia. It’s one of only three breeds in the world known to have a ridge of fur along its spine that runs opposite to the rest of its hair—the Rhodesian Ridgeback and Thai Ridgeback being the other two. Their ridge is common among mutts in Vietnam, but there are only 700 purebred Phu Quoc Ridgeback dogs registered to the Vietnam Kennel Club.
Vietnam is home to many kinds of frogs, but this one—also called the Theloderma Corticale—looks the strangest because of the texture of its skin. They’re abundant in Northern Vietnam, on jungle cliffs and in caves, but they’ll still be difficult to spot because of their camouflaging.
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There are Burmese Pythons in Vietnam. That is a scary thought. Thankfully, they’re afraid of people so they tend to keep their distance, sticking near water to feast on small mammals and birds. Because of their unique coloring and docility, they are popular as pets, and many are captured and sold through black markets.