I am growing more and more fascinated by the wildlife on Planet Earth and recently watched a documentary which included examples of animal camouflage. These creatures and the amazing way they blend into their surroundings so seamlessly are truly astonishing. This is no little matter of slapping a few streaks on your cheeks and foliage in your helmet a la marines heading into the jungle. These ways of animal camouflage are nature’s way of protecting creatures from predators and also, providing the ways of enticing prey while remaining hidden. Here’s just a few examples of incredible animal camouflage:
1 The Tree Frog
The tree frog is one of many amphibians that use its color to conceal itself. Instead of being a muddy green or brown color, this frog is bright green - the same bright green color that its habitat of bushes and trees are. This animal camouflage is a bright color which successfully hides it from predators as a result. Even greater is the fact that even if a predator sees it, it only takes one hop and it’s mixed in with the rest of the foliage yet again.
2 The Snowy Owl
This bundle of white feathers lives in the Arctic, and does not rely on nearby barns or trees to take cover. If it needs a place to hide from predators then it has a little sit down in the snow and waits for the danger to pass. It is also a nice place to get up close and personal with its prey as it scampers past. It is also a very cute example of something that can camouflage itself, as most of them are insects or just plain mean.
3 The California Ground Squirrel
This very cute and small squirrel is able to use its brown and grey colors to look like the surrounding rocks and ground debris. It uses the fact that the sun-baked mold on the rocks is lightly brushed away by the weather. It gives a brown and grey patterned effect that the squirrel copies. It is then able to run around on the ground without being spotted by every cat, dog and bird of prey in the district. (ps in the pic the squirrel is near the top left hand corner towards the center)
4 Great Potoo
This is a bird that can hide in grey colored trees during the day and night and is still hard to spot. It has quite a mixed reputation because from the side it looks like another pretty bird of prey, and from the front it looks like the template for an evil cartoon animal. The fact that it is often photographed as having glowing red eyes during the night has done its mixed reputation no good. When stood still it is incredibly difficult to spot – exactly how the best animal camouflage works!.
5 The Mimic Octopus
This octopus is clever because it can match the colors around it. It is like the chameleon except that it is far faster at changing and far better at it too. This is a creature that can change its color in seconds so that there are few situations where this octopus cannot fit in. It will even mimic plants and animals to fool its predators and prey. It is one of the most intelligent creatures in the ocean.
6 The Lion
Half a ton of bone and muscle kicking around Africa may not seem like very good animal camouflage, but when the time comes to do a bit of hunting--they go invisible. Remember that bit in the lion king where the snooty bird was talking away (voiced by the guy who did Mr. Bean) and Simba and his Dad disappear? That is what it is like in Africa, except that when real ones in Africa disappear from "your" view--then there is probably a surprise heading your way.
7 The Long Eared Owl
It may not be as cute as the snowy owl, but it has an example of the best animal camouflage ever, as it manages to hide its entire body within the bowels of old and broken down trees. Once it closes its eyes it becomes indistinguishable from the surrounding bark and trees in a forest. The camouflage works both during the day and during the night too, which gives the own a significant survival advantage if it is lucky enough to find a tree.
The insect world hasn’t featured in my list because there are so many – insects that look like bark, leaves and flowers really do look completely invisible. The bigger an animal is, I think the greater the feat of camouflage. Are you as impressed by animal camouflage as I am?