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Camouflage - Animals in Hiding!
An Amazing Survival Strategy
Camouflage is common in the animal kingdom because it's such a good survival strategy for both predators and prey. Here, you will find amazing photos of animals using amazing camouflage and some cool camo clothing and accessories.
Predators want to lurk undetected, ready to surprise their next meal. Prey animals, on the other hand, need to avoid being someone else's lunch! Of course, there are other strategies that can help - keeping quiet, staying downwind, keeping still, but using color is really cool. So, this is my top ten count-down of hidden critters.
This photo of a male Leopard was taken by Lukas Kaffer, and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
10) The Preying Mantis - preying, not praying!
This one is fairly easy to see in this photo, but if still and lurking in the leaves, this predator can be hard to spot. Some mantids disguise themselves as leaves, others as flowers, but either way they are a fearsome mini-predator. Many years ago, I worked in a Zoology department. We kept some mantids in the insect breeding rooms. On more than one occasion, I felt their beady eyes sizing me up as a potential meal! The photo shows an adult Chinese Mantis (Tenodera Sinensis) perched in a tree. It was taken by Maryland Pride, and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
More About Camouflage
- Camouflage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Article about protective coloration and why it is used in the natural world
9) The Legendary Lemming
Lemmings are small rodents, related to hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice. LemmingLemmings are herbivores, with a penchant for sedges, grasses, leaves and shoots. Wikipedia will tell you that lemmings use their colour as a warning to predators to keep away. Well, maybe, but this photo of a lemming on a rock tells another story. It was taken by Yann Kervennic, and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Lemmings are surrounded by myth and folklore. In the 1500s, Ziegler, a geographer living in Strasbourg suggested that lemmins fell from the sky during storms. The more famous "lemming suicide" theory has been the subject of films and video games. The truth? Well, it seems more likely to be a by-product of migratory behaviour. When populations become too large, lemmings will migrate, sometimes crossing rivers, in their search for a new home. If the river or lake is too wide, they will tire and may drown. Poor little critters...
8) A Mackerel Tabby
Anyone who has lived with a cat, or cats, for any length of time, will know that they are tiny predators; quite possibly viewing themselves as large tigers in the forest! Cats will sneak, creep, and lurk around the garden (or just about anywhere really) for the unwary bird or mouse. I know someone who's three-legged farm cat used to bring home large rabbits, leaving them on the kitchen floor, as though to say "cook this please mum". This photo of a sneaky mackerel tabby, blending in with the autumn environment, is by Fowler&fowler, who have kindly released it into the public domain.
7) The Katydid - or Bush-cricket
Known as katydids (American English) or bush-crickets (British English) are related to grasshoppers and crickets. Their scientific name is "tettigoniidae", and many show camouflage or mimicry, and have shapes and colours like leaves. Male tettitgoniids are quite noisy, "stridulating" with a sound-producing organ. Many tettigoniids eat leaves, bark and flowers, but some are predators. Large tettigoniids will bite - one species, Decticus verrucivorus, is called the "wart-biter" and can actually break the skin of an unwary finger.
The photo shows Tettigonia viridissima; it is by Adrian Benko, and licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
The Human Animal in Camouflage
It tends to be hunters and outdoors people that like camo clothing the most, but from time-to-time we all get the urge to wear something unusual.
Camo jackets vary from ultra light mid/outer layers, through to heavier weight fully insulated hooded jackets. Camouflage tops are very popular and make cool Christmas and birthday gifts. Come back regularly to see a new selection of camo jackets and tops.
This waterproof jacket will keep you dry, even in windy and wet conditions. Waterproof breathable fabric keeps water out, while allowing excess moisture to evaporate keeping you comfortable.
6) An Adult Cuttlefish
Getting a little harder to spot now...
Ok, I admit it... cuttlefish are some of my favourite animals. They are not fish, of course. They are Cephalopods, related to the squids, the octopuses, and the nautiluses). They are amongst the most intelligent of the invertebrates (animals without backbones). Cuttlefish are both predators and prey - they eat small worms, molluscs, shrimps, crabs, fish, and other cephalopods. They fall prey to fish, sharks, seals, dolphins, seabirds and other cuttlefish! This photo, by Thomas Schoch, shows an adult cuttlefish, in Corfu, Greece. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Where's the Octopus? - A stunning vdeo!
Marine biologist Roger Hanlon, a scientist at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, studies camouflage in squid, cuttlefish and octopus.
Cephalopods are masters of disguise as you can see in this amazing video.
5) Ms Stripes herself, the Zebra
The three species of zebra are members of the horse family. Most people can recognise a zebra because of their stripes. Zebraslive in a variety of places, such as grasslands, scrublands, woodlands, coastal hills and mountains. Sadly, Grevy's zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered, with only the plains zebras being plentiful.
Zebras are black animals, with white stripes and a white underbelly, but why the stripes..? The zebra's main predator (ignoring human poachers) is the lion, and one theory suggests that lions have difficulty seeing the vertical striped zebras through long grass. Another possibility is that the stripes make herding zebras difficult to distinguish from each other - predators need to focus on one animal to be successful in the chase. A couple of experiments have shown that the disruptive stripes are an effective way of confusing flies, such as the blood-sucking tsetse fly and horseflies (tabanids).
The photo, by Rei, shows a mother nursing her young, camouflaged in a stand of deadwood. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
4) The Grasshopper
Grasshoppers are small, solitary, insects with an impressive way of getting around. Like their relatives, the locusts and the groundhoppers, young grasshoppers can jump up to a metre to escape predators. The adults use their powerful jump to launch themselves into flight. This public domain photo, by Jensbn, shows a camouflaged grasshopper on a rock in the French alps.
3) Infant Cuttlefish
Cuttlefish have a life expectancy of a year or two, and range in size from 15 cm up to 50 cm in mantle length, depending on the species. The largest species is Sepia apama, which can reach weights of 10.5 kg (23 lb). But, the little guy in this photo is just a baby, doing a great job of hiding his eight arms and two tentacles. The photo, taken at Disney World, by Raul654 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Outdoor Survival Equipment
This Camo Net has a special anti-fire treatment, so it's useful for many purposes from indoor decoration, to outdoor creating hides.
Camo netting with a tight weave to keep insects away. Available in a Mossy Oak pattern, it is washable and durable, disguising shadows and reflections.
2) The Skulking Sculpin - Aka the bullhead or sea scorpion
Sculpin are salt and fresh water fish, usually small, elongated and tapered with big heads. They are inactive critters and bottom-dwelling. Of the 300 species, most are found in shallow sea waters, but some do live in deep water. The freshwater miller's-thumb (Cottus gobio) is found in European rivers and lakes. It grows to 10 cm in length, and is a mottled brown colour. The largest Sculpins can be up to 60 cm (2 feet) long. The North American sea raven is one of the Sculpins which can inflate itself with air when removed from the water. The cabezone (Scorpaenichthys marmoratus), which lives in the eastern Pacific is a large, edible fish, but its blue- or green-tinted flesh doesn't look too appealing.
The photo, by Brocken Inaglory, shows a well-camouflaged sculpin eating a shrimp, in a tidal pool. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
What is a Sculpin?
Wikipedia article giving a lot more information on the Sculpin
1) The Frog
Frogs are simply amazing. They can be found on all continents except Antarctica, from the frozen north, above the Arctic Circle to deserts and tropical rainforests. Some species live in water, such as ponds, others live in trees. Of the 5000 species so far described, most live in the tropical rainforests. Unfortunately, this makes them vulnerable to the most dangerous animal on the planet, Homo sapiens, currently destroying rainforests around the world.
Being small, thin-skinned, and lacking claws or spines, many rely on camouflage to avoid being eaten by fish, birds, snakes, otters, foxes, coatis, and other predators. Other defensive strategies include jumping away, bluffing by inflating themselves to look bigger, or having a slippery mucus coating. Some poisonous or foul-tasting frogs advertise this fact by warning coloration, typically yellow, orange or red, with black spots. Some sneaky little guys mimic these warning colours, without going to the expense of producing the toxins!
This photo, by Lior Golgher, shows a very well-camouflaged frog. It was taken in the Lower Rio Branco-Rio Jauaperi Reserve, in Brazil, and is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
More About Frogs and Toads
- Frog - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A wealth of information about frogs and toads.
How many of these colorful critters did you see?
Some of the animals are easier to see than others. Look at the photos again and try to find them all.
Out of 10, what was your score?
Could you see the frog? - If not here he is...
He is still difficult to spot... He fills the middle section of the photo. He has a black W-shape on the top of his head, with his eyes vertically above and below that, and his snout pointing to the right.
Camo your pet!
Available in 6 different sizes, these harnesses were designed for comfort and safety. They are made out of 100% polyester soft mesh.