Do you know that there are some animals that can play hide and seek just like you? This art of blending in the surroundings is called camouflage. Animals need to protect themselves from predators in order to survive and reproduce and pass their genes on to a new generation.
Becoming the background
Some animals are able to mimic plants, ground cover, or even other animals. Deer, squirrels, rats and many other animals have brownish or ‘earth tone’ colours that match the colour of the tree trunks and soil.
Leaf butterflies are able to successfully pass themselves as a dead leaf because of their ‘dead leaf’ like shape and colour. They even have fake leaf veins! Walking sticks, with their dark skinny bodies and swollen joints, smartly dupe their predators with their striking resemblance to dry twigs.
Turtles and tortoises use their rock-like appearance to blindside their prey and hide from large predators like crocodiles and alligators. Sharks, dolphins and many other sea creatures have a greyish-blue colour that helps them blend in with the water.
Changing with the background
Some animals have tiny pigments in their external skin called ‘biochromes,’ that can absorb ambient light and produce the colour combinations the creature needs. An octopus can change the colour and texture of its skin in a jiffy, so that it can hide in the flora of the ocean floor.
The chameleon can match the exact colour of its surroundings. Chameleons also use camouflage to express their mood; they turn yellow, dark blue or even black when they are annoyed.
An Arctic fox changes the colour of its fur according to the seasons. In summers, the Arctic fox grows brown fur to hide in the trees and in the winters, it grows white fur to hide in the snow.
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