Animal Camouflage

Survival in the animal kingdom is a difficult thing. If you are not the biggest or fastest animal on the block, you need to resort to more clever methods. In order to evade predators, many animals have developed very advanced camouflage techniques.

Similar to warfare, subterfuge is a great way to confuse your enemy in nature. During evolution, many animals developed various types of camouflage which are able to fool other animals and humans alike. This mostly depends on the environment in which the animal spends most of its time. Sometimes it is easier to just change locations in order to better fit in, but when that is not an option, animals can have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves.


One of the most common forms of camouflage used in the animal and insect kingdom is background matching. As the name suggests these animals have colors or patterns that help them seamlessly fit in with their surroundings. In polar regions, a basic white coat of fur can do as good a job as anything else. In other biomes, the animal or insect in question can take on the patterns of tree barks or stones.

Another great example of this is disruptive colorations. Animals with this kind of camouflage have patches of light and dark colors which then break up their outline. This technique makes these animals harder to see and makes avoiding predators much easier.

Just by looking at these examples you can see the variety in camouflage between different animals. All of it comes down to the surroundings and the lifestyle of the insects and animals in question. Background matching is great for animals that stay in similar terrain for most of their lives. For them, moving represents a great risk since the new surroundings might not be as well-suited for their coloration, and they are then more visible to predators. On the other hand, animals with disruptive coloration can easily blend in surroundings where the terrain is mixed. As soon as they enter a terrain that is uniform in color, they stick out like a sore thumb.

Similar to land creatures, animals in the ocean have also developed advanced techniques for avoiding predators. May cephalopods like octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish have the ability to change colors in order to better match their surroundings. They achieve this by contracting a special group of muscles that can affect the size of pigment cells. These pigment cells are called chromatospheres, and they can be found in the skin of these animals. Scientists have noted that some of these species can adjust their appearance to a large number of looks. These methods are even pouring over into our world as armies are developing similar technology for soldiers.

Sharks, on the other hand, have another technique. This one is called countershading. Sunlight hits the back of the shark and illuminates it, but due to its darker back and lighter belly, the shark remains hard to spot. Birds have a similar technique. Additionally, this technique makes the animal harder to spot from above, as well as from below. From below, the shark blends in with the sky and sun with its white belly, and from above it blends in with its dark back.

One of the ultimate forms of camouflage is mimicry. Animals and insects that possess this ability are able to almost perfectly mimic items in their surroundings. They take on forms of twigs, branches, or bark, for example.

Some species, like squirrels who rub themselves in rattlesnake skin, take on the scent of predators in order to scare of intruders. So not all camouflage is visual.

But all this is in the eye of the beholder. The technique is as good as the opponent it fools. So, as long as it works, it is considered great camouflage.

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