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20 animals that have mastered camouflage

by Gabrielle Lisa Collard

In the natural world, regardless of where you rank on the food chain, knowing how to camouflage yourself is a matter of life and death. From ruthless hunters and multicoloured insects to poisonous fish residing at the bottom of the ocean, these 20 animals are all masters of the subtle and fascinating art of camouflage. You won’t believe your eyes!

Gorgonian pygmy seahorse

The gorgonian pygmy seahorse, a dwarf species, lives in Indo-Pacific waters where it blends wonderfully with pink corals, perfectly matching the colours of its habitat.

False stonefish

The false stonefish camouflages itself easily against porous reefs found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and off the coasts of Japan and Taiwan. The texture of its skin makes it indistinguishable from coral.

Snowshoe hare

The snowshoe hare, also called the varying hare or snowshoe rabbit, changes its coat according to the season. When the landscape is covered with snow, this animal’s fur turns white. The rest of the year, it’s brown. Pretty smart!

Dead leaf mantis

This amazing creature from sub-Saharan Africa is a master at blending into its environment. It looks just like a dead leaf.

Stonefish

The dreaded stonefish (the real one this time) is a strange species of fish that camouflages itself in the coral reefs around Polynesia and claims victims every year. This creature is the most poisonous fish in the world. Its many dorsal spines emit a toxin that causes a painful sting and can be fatal.

Lappet

This large moth looks like a dead leaf. It lives among trees throughout Europe. Fun fact: These moths live primarily during the summer when dead leaves are less common.

Thorny devil

This strange-looking spiny lizard, called Moloch horridus in Latin, passes largely unnoticed in the sands of the Australian desert where it feeds mainly on ants.

Leopard

The mottled coat of this magnificent cat found in Africa and parts of Asia helps it to blend into a wide range of habitats, from sandy soil to grassy and leafy areas, as it slowly stalks its next victim.

Barred owl

Silent and nocturnal, the barred owl is a formidable bird of prey that feeds on chickens, frogs, and rabbits. With feathers that blend perfectly with tree trunks, this bird has no difficulty camouflaging itself in the North American forests it calls home.

Orchid mantis

Native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, the orchid mantis takes its name from the pretty flower it imitates to perfection. This insect’s pink body, tinged with white and brown, goes unnoticed among tropical flowers.

Frogfish

In addition to being a pro at camouflage, the frogfish is also a clever manipulator. It dangles a tasty-looking lure to attract prey, then quickly swallows any that get close enough. These fish are found in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Leaf-tailed gecko

The leaf-tailed gecko is the undisputed master of camouflage. Indeed, its colour and texture mimic a dried leaf so accurately that it’s difficult to spot, even when you know it’s there. This reptile lives mainly in Madagascar and on islands in the Indian Ocean.

Green bush viper

This poisonous viper, found along the equator in central Africa, lives in deciduous trees where its green colour helps it blend in easily. While its bite is painful and dangerous, it’s rarely fatal to humans.

Egyptian nightjar

This fascinating bird lives in the deserts and semi-arid terrain of North Africa and the Middle East. Its grey-beige plumage is so perfectly adapted to its habitat that it renders the bird almost invisible when perched on sand among bushes.

Common baron caterpillar

The common baron caterpillar, or Euthalia aconthea, is a green caterpillar with long hairs that make it almost invisible when sitting in the centre of a similarly coloured leaf. Such impressive camouflage offers protection from birds and animals looking for a tasty snack. Native to India and Southeast Asia, common barons feed on mangoes and cashews.

Chameleon

An honorable mention must go to these reptiles boasting independently mobile eyes and prehensile tails! Chameleons are found all over the American continent, the West Indies, and Europe. These skilled hunters live in bushes where they protect themselves from predators by changing colour to blend in with their environment.

Wolf spider

The wolf spider, a member of the Lycosidae family, is found all over Europe, especially in France, and is very common in both urban and rural homes. It has one particularly unusual characteristic. Rather than spinning a web to catch its prey, the wolf spider hunts on the ground, locating targets by the vibrations they make when moving around. This creature’s hairy, grey-brown body enables it to easily hide in the smallest of spaces.

Copperhead

The copperhead is a lovely carnivorous and insectivorous snake native to the central and southeastern United States. As well as sporting clever camouflage, it can spot its prey in the dark thanks to heat-sensitive dimples located on each side of its head.

Crab spider

Also known by its Latin name, Misumenia vatia, the crab spider is pale yellow and lives all over Canada. These spiders don’t spin webs, but rather blend in with their surroundings, perching on flowers and camouflaging themselves while waiting for dinner to arrive!

Leafy sea dragon

This spectacular fish is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating specimens in the marine world, featuring magnificent adornments that perfectly imitate seaweed. Like other seahorses, the male of the species carries and gives birth to the young.

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