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Animal Mimicry

General Knowledge | 7-13 yrs | Reading Pod

Some animals have special patterns or markings on their bodies that help them blend in with one another and baffle predators.

How zebra and tiger stripes are useful

Zebras make good use of their stripes to confuse lions. When all the zebras stand together in close groups, it is nearly impossible to tell one zebra from another.

When a tiger creeps through the undergrowth, it is difficult to spot it because the light colour of the long grass has a black shadow which blends with the light and dark markings of the tiger.

What is mimicry?

Mimicry is a type of camouflage in which an animal tries to copy another animal. Some harmless snakes and caterpillars mimic dangerous snakes in appearance and behaviour in order to fool their predators.

Some fireflies are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They mimic flash patterns of the females of other firefly species, to lure the males of that species.

Many butterflies have large, circular patterns on their wings. These patterns closely resemble the eyes of animals much larger than the butterfly, such as owls and confuse predators.


Some creatures mimic their own body parts at different places. Some snakes have tails which resemble their heads. This is useful to make a quick getaway from a predator. They show their tail to the predator and move backwards.

Host mimicry

Like a parasite, the lazy cuckoo bird lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. It even takes care to choose a bird with eggs that resemble its own eggs! Every female cuckoo lays eggs in a particular colour pattern, so it looks for hosts accordingly.

The art of camouflage in the animal world has also inspired humans. Today’s army jungle warfare uniforms have a camouflage pattern to help them blend into their surroundings and make them undetectable.

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