Some animals have special abilities like being able to camouflage themselves on different surfaces. Sometimes it can be really hard to see them when they match their skin colors and patterns to their surroundings.
In this article, we look at some of the best camouflage animals on the planet!
We have some AMAZING creatures lined up for you!
Let’s start with the very best masters of disguise.
The VERY Best Camouflaging Animals
We start by looking at the kings and queens of camouflaging. They are found across the globe and they include terrestrial animals as well as aquatic, aerial, and arboreal animals.
We will head to the rainforest, the Arctic areas, the deep sea, and the desert in order to find these animals.
The first animal we need to take a look at is the Chameleons.
Chameleons are amazing at hiding everywhere. They will match their skin color to anything. Literally.
Notice how it can even mimic its surroundings with matching eye colors!
The Chameleons camouflage themselves by expanding and contracting their skin cells. This enables them to show different pigments containing many gorgeous colors. They are also very flexible so they can change the shape of their bodies in order to match the patterns and shapes of the surroundings.
They can even choose to roll around in order to let you think they are leaves blowing wherever the wind goes!
Let’s start by letting it show us all the beautiful colors it can take on.
Here’s the head from the side where the weird eyes are visible. Notice how they work independently. One eye can look down while the other is looking to the side.
They can rotate their eyes to form a completely 360-degree image to the animal’s brain.
This is a very unique feature that we don’t find in many other animals. It gives the animal an advantage because it can sit completely still while looking at everything without even moving its head!
Here the Chameleon matches the green colors of the leaves.
This is a special type of Chameleon with horns. These are not as common as the ones you can see in the other pictures.
This guy is mimicking the colors of the branches.
They are green and brown and it doesn’t take long before the animal has made a copy of the patterns.
In this last example, the Chameleon has chosen to match the colors of concrete.
It’s not as colorful as the leaves and flowers and it shows how perfectly it can let go of all the colors in order to fit in unnoticed anywhere.
For the second place, we must head to the deep waters of the sea to find a Cuttlefish.
The Cuttlefish is a very odd fella too. Just look at it.
It looks very unique and weird as it changes its skin color to match the surroundings.
Notice here, how it can blend in with all types of backgrounds. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a red, yellow, green, or even mix colored space it chooses to hide.
Really impressive skills!
Cuttlefish in green surroundings.
The patterns of the sea plants are almost copied to the back of the fish and we two dominant colors being matched: the colors from the plants and the color of the bottom of the sea (between the plants).
This Cuttlefish matches the plants with an almost yellow tone of green.
These are three good examples of just how well this fish can sneak in unnoticed evewhere!
3) Octopuses and Squids
We find other masters of disguise at the bottom of the sea. This creature is even related to the Cuttlefish. We are talking about squids and octopuses.
They can also choose to match their skin colors and patterns to their surroundings.
And the result speaks for themselves!
The first example below is an octopus laying very still at the bottom of the ocean. It matches the brown and red colors.
This octopus is hiding between some red corals.
Look how the tentacles match the bright red colors of the corals.
This guy is also doing a pretty good job.
He is matching the green and bright colors and it almost looks like his body is covered by seaweed!
The patterns of the branches and leaves are completely copied on the skin of the octopus.
Arctic Animals Camouflaging In The Snow
Let’s turn our attention to the North Pole for a moment.
The Arctic area is the area around Alaska, Northern Finland, Greenland (part of Denmark), Iceland, the northern parts of Norway, Russia, Sweden, and Canada.
Here we also find some animals with amazing camouflaging skills. They will often have completely white fur and skin in order to blend in with the white snowy landscape.
Life in the Arctic area is rough and it’s not easy to stay warm in the freezing temperatures here. So you need to spend your time wisely in order to survive.
One of the things these animals do is camouflaging. It lets the animals hide when they need to rest and stay out of sight from the predators. It’s an effective way to move around unseen by the poor creatures that otherwise are about to get eaten
Let’s start with Show Fox.
A cute little hunter with the softest white fur.
4) Arctic Fox
This is a cute little baby Fox that lives in the Arctic landscape. It can easily camouflage itself as it is completely white and very puffy.
In the winter months the Arctic fox has this impressive white fur and when summer is around the corner it will change color to light brown.
Because the white fur does only camouflage the animal in the show. During the summer it needs a light brown colored coat in order to hide.
5) Snowy Owls
Snowy Owls are really pretty birds.
They are white and furry and puffier than their cousins in the warmer climates.
They have very intense eyes that can stare right at you because it always sees you before you see it. It will hide in the white snow and be very hard to find. The white feathers are perfect camouflage for a snowy landscape.
The yellow eyes are very intense and it has some of the largest eyes among bird.
Here you can see the yellow eyes.
They are the only thing that doesn’t blend in with the background when you encounter a white Snowy Owl in the Arctic landscape of the North Pole.
6) Snow Rabbits
They are also really pretty as they stick up their long ears in the middle of the white snow.
The Arctic creatures all have thicker feathers and fur than their cousins and that makes them look like a teddy bear you want to hug all day.
Wolves are also adapting to the white snow with white fur.
They are hauling at the sky like all other Wolves so you will know when they are near so you can get to safety.
They also know how to hide in the snow and it can easily sneak up on the prey as it is very silent when it moves.
8) Snow Leopards
Probably one of the most majestic creatures of the Arctic.
They are so pretty with their bright fur and intense eyes. They are as deadly and quick as the Leopards in Africa.
But these guys are better at hiding in the white landscape and the dotted fur offers a perfect camouflage as the animals sneak and hunt between the snow and rocks.
9) White Reindeers
These reindeer are so beautiful.
They have completely white fur and they will only give themselves up when you notice the antlers as they move up and down when the animals seek for food.
There have also been several sightings of an albino Moose as far south as Denmark (the southern neighbor country to Norway). The Moose is closely related to the Reindeer. It’s just bigger.
They are typically spotted in the very north of Norway where the temperatures drop to the same lew freezing degrees as in the Arctic areas.
10) Arctic Seals
What can possibly be more comforting and cute than a white baby seal?
They have enormous cute eyes and they will have you falling in love with them instantly as they stare right back and you and looking for a play buddy.
They live near the Arctic ocean and they are as puffy and furry as they are cute!
11) Polar Bears
Polar Bears are also masters of disguise.
They have white fur and are very bulky so even though they are huge bears with enormous bodies they are able to camouflage themselves when they are trying to sneak up on their prey.
They are becoming rare as their natural habitats are disappearing.
Here’s another pretty cool shot of the Polar Bear.
It is photographed from below the ice. A very tough shot to shoot as you can imagine. The water here is probably at the freezing point and you have to wait until the bear walks right by the spot you are hiding in (with your under-water gear!).
Very cool shot indeed!
12) Golden Retriever Puppy
Well, this CUTE little Golden Retriever puppy is not living in the Arctic areas. Not in the wild at least. But we just couldn’t resist adding it to the list of animals that can camouflage well in the snow.
This puppy would be hard to spot if it wasn’t for the fact that it is hyperactive and always playing with everything around it.
So here it is, our white little friend who charmed its way into this list!
Desert Animals Camouflaging
Life in the desert can be tough. The sun is extremely hot during the day so the animals need to spend as little energy as possible. Therefore they develop different skills for more effective hunting.
The ability to camouflage yourself is a crucial skill for many animals in the desert.
Here are some benefit from being able to camouflage yourself in the desert:
- The animals can sit and wait for the prey to come by (saving energy)
- The animals can sneak up on its prey undetected
- The animals can seek shelter during the day and sleep without being seen. When you find a good spot that enables you to blend in with the colors and patterns you have better protected during the day. This is important to the many nocturnal animals that seek shelter and rest during the hot daytime and are active at night.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the camouflaging animals in the desert.
14) Thorny Devils
This is a really weird animal.
The Thorny Devil looks almost like a part of a thorn bush. It can have strong colors that let it blend in with surfaces like pebbles and sand in the desert.
The desert rocks can be quite colorful so the Thorny Devils can find places to hide.
It tries to look dangerous and intimidating in order to keep other animals at a distance. This tactic is called “mimicry”.
Scorpions are sneaky predators. They will prey on insects, spiders, lizards, and even other scorpions.
They use their venomous sting on the tail to poison its prey and it’s very handy to be able to hide and blend in order to surprise the food.
Check out this almost yellowish scorpion hiding between the small stones.
Same tactic as the Thorny Devil above.
16) Jack Rabbits
Jack Rabbits are super adorable with their huge ears.
They have a very good hearing (obviously) and they can sometimes be hard to spot because they are masters at blending in and hiding between branches, trees, tall grass, etc.
Iguanas can sometimes be mistaken as a lizard or even a Chameleon to the untrained eye.
They are also reptiles with amazing colors.
Many people believe they can change their skin colors just like the Chameleons but that actually inaccurate. The Iguanas will typically not change the skin color unless they are stressed or mating.
But they are still masters of hiding due to the strong colors that mix well with leaves and grass.
Reptiles are truly amazing and colorful.
Let’s take one more photo before we head on to the animals from the rainforest. This next photo shows the many beautiful colors of the eye of a Crocodile. Another reptile that can camouflage well in shallow waters.
Rainforest Animals With Amazing Camouflage
The next category we will look at is the camouflage masters of the rainforest.
A rainforest is an amazing place with a ton of wonderful and strange animals. We will take a good look at some of the creatures to understand how they camouflage themselves as a survival and feeding trick.
The rainforest is full of predators for small creatures and they need to hide in order to survive.
Let’s take a look at how these animals hide in order to survive and how they choose their hideouts wisely in order to remain unseen by the predators.
Geckos are amazing.
They can climb almost any surface with their amazing feet. They will suck themselves up against a slippery surface or they can cling to a tree etc.
They are also some of the masters of disguise that live deep in the rainforest. Though we do find the Geckos almost anywhere (except the Arctic areas)
Geckos are small lizards and some of them can change their colors. They will typically do so during the day and at night when they need to blend in between other colors and patterns.
And here’s another Gecko hiding on the ground.
Notice how different the colors come off with this guy. There are a lot of different Gecko species in the rainforest and we have just found two that seem to blend in well with the berries and rocks.
Another incredible animal from the rainforest with very strong colors is the Caterpillar.
It can have many patterns and colors which enables it to match the colors of a leaf or a stick.
They can also be more hairy or puffy. They will typically hide on a flower with the same strong colors.
This species has a sting in order to sting its opponent and it has strong red legs that can keep it firmly attached to the trees and branches of the rainforest.
Snakes are also amazing at hiding in plain sight.
They can have a lot of different patterns and colors and sometimes you won’t notice them at all as they lay on the ground or in a tree with the same colors as their scales.
This green snake hides between the leaves in the bottom of the rainforest and it’s a good reason to always bring a guide when you want to explore the many exotic animals of the rainforest.
21) Crab Spiders
Crab Spiders is really interesting and pretty a species you find in the tropical rainforest.
They have amazing colors and they are small. They can hide on leaves, flowers, and anywhere else with strong colors that match their color.
They can be green, brown, yellow (see below), and even transparent.
This species below is almost completely yellow all over the body which makes it easy for it to hide between the bright leaves in the tropical rainforest.
Grasshoppers are everywhere.
But in the rainforest, they play an important role… as food!
They eat the vegetation in the rainforest and most of them have wings so they can fly too. And of course, they are amazing jumpers as they move from place to place very quickly like an explosion!
There are several species in the rainforest and this is doing a pretty good job of being hard to find between green leaves.
Notice how this Grasshopper looks completely like a leaf. The pattern of the leaves is almost 100% identical to the patterns on the back of the hopper!
Frogs are good at hiding too.
They are small and can creep in everywhere. They are also one of the few animals that can live both in the water and on the ground.
But they do need moisture in order to survive and thrive.
We find frogs and toads in all colors we can think of. Little green frogs hide well in green exotic areas and this brown frog hides well on the muddy and rocky ground.
Sea Animals Using Camouflage
Well, it’s time to take a DEEP dive into the ocean and take a closer look at some of the most amazing monster and creatures we have on the planet.
We LOVE sea creatures here in the office and when it comes to camouflage, these bandits are the best. They look as creepy and funny as they are hard to find. They will often just sit tight and wait for food to swim by.
In the deep of the ocean, you need a special skill set to survive the many predators.
Much like on the Savannah and in the rainforest. One of the best tricks in the book is to camouflage yourself to either avoid the predators or to be the predator.
We already looked at the Cuttlefish and the Octopuses at the beginning of this article as they are some of the very best at camouflaging themselves.
But we still have a good deal of cool animals in the sea to check out.
Let’s see if we can find some of these sea animals. You might need to look twice in order to find them!
The Stonefish is hard to find. It totally blends into the picture and becomes almost invisible when it sits there between the stones and dead corals.
If you cannot find it you should shift your attention to the center of the image.
Here you will find the fins and the left eye of the amazing Stonefish:
25) Tassled Scorpionfish
This Scorpionfish is exceptionally well hidden. If you give you up should look for the mouth in the center of the image at the bottom.
You might be able to locate the fins and eyes as well but you won’t be the first one to have surpassed a Tassled Scorpionfish without noticing it.
After all, they are amazing at camouflaging deep down at the bottom of the ocean.
26) Marine Iguanas
This very special type of Iguana lives around the sea. And it is only found at the Galápagos island in Ecuador.
They live around mangroves and on beaches and will dive into the ocean to feed on algae. It’s not common for reptiles to live in the water and this Marine Iguana can be hard to spot as the feet and the bak can look almost like rocks.
The dark color of the back helps the animal absorb the energy from the sun while creating the perfect camouflage among the rocky beaches of Galápagos.
Seahorses can often find some seaweed or rush to hide between.
They can be multiple colors and this little fella has a good spot here between the bright green seaweed.
28) Crab in Seashell
This crab found a good place to hide inside an empty seashell.
It can disguise itself completely in the sand when it splashes wet sand over the shell in order to look totally like a bunch of sand.
A very good hiding place for a fragile animal with many predators on the beach!
Other Animals With Amazing Hiding Skills
Moths are amazing bugs with beautiful wings and they can actually be pretty big.
This moth has found a good spot to hide on the rocks of a building. It’s completely hidden and the patterns and colors match the stones very well.
This is the Sphinx Moth.
It is also amazingly well-hidden between these trees when it sits still. You need to know exactly where to look in order to find it.
Another great artist when it comes to camouflage!
We looked at Snow Owls before but we also find other types of owls to be very good at hiding as well.
They can sit very still for a long time just looking for something to hunt and when it sits between trees they can be hard to locate.
Owls hunt mouses and other tiny animals with their amazing hearing. Their faces are constructed in a way that they pick up almost any sound of movement. The space around the eyes works almost like a disc receiver.
31) Horned Toads
These Horned Toads are a lot of fun too.
If you can find them!
They hide amazingly well on the ground and you cannot even see which end is the head and which is the tail. Unless you know your geography.
The back and the feet are well camouflaged against the soil.
Not a guy you want to miss on your way through the Savannah.
You need a good guide on the safari for the same reason. The Lions here are exceptionally good at hiding in the tall grass and if you do not pay close attention you might miss it.
They can sneak up upon a Gazelle or a Zebra and before the poor animal knows what is going on the Lion(s) will have set its teeth in a leg or in the neck!
Yes. Beatles. Who would have thought?
They can be hard to spot when they find a good hangout on a leaf or on a tree. There are hundreds of thousands of different species and they all have their own unique look.
Some beetles will have the same brown colors as the bark on the trees and others hide well between sand and stones.
Butterflies come in all the colors of the rainbow. And you have to know where to look if these guys are trying to hide.
They can look exactly like a withered leaf when it sits still among these branches laying on the ground.
Or they can hide among the most colorful flowers. This is called “concealing coloration” and it’s a fancy way of saying that the animal chooses to sit in a spot with colors and patterns that matches their skin.
This butterfly would be almost impossible to spot on a yellow flower.
Notice how the wings are almost transparent. Some butterflies have completely transparent wings which makes them very hard to spot (even in the air).
I saw a couple of these in the fall (inside a glass dome with tropical butterflies) and they look AMAZING!
Many butterflies have round patterns that look like eyes at the top of the wings. This can trick other animals into thinking that they are not butterflies but Owls.
This is the perfect decoy and the animals will stay away because Owls eat many of the enemies of the butterflies.
Wild Rabbits can also hide very well.
This fella has found a good spot on a sandy area with little branches laying on the ground.
The color of the fur is a perfect match for the mix of sand and small branches.
36) Stick insect
It’s not hard to imagine how these sticks can get lost between branches and leaves!
I used to have a bunch of these as a kid and they are very easy to keep as pets. They just need leaves and water. But beware if you have more than one.
These fellas breed like crazy. One year after I got rid of them I still eventually would find a little fella somewhere in my room just hanging out!
Animal Camouflage Definition
Here’s a short and precise definition of camouflage:
Camouflage is a tactic used by animals in order to hide and blend in with their surroundings. They can do so by changing their skin colors and patterns or they can move to a spot that matches their skin colors (concealing coloration).
So how do we distinguish between camouflage and unintended hiding? According to National Geographic,
Camouflage in nature is also called “Cryptic Coloration” which refers to the way an animal chooses a location based on its color, shape, and patterns.
Often the animals will match the background and other times it will move to a place with matching colors.
Why do animals camouflage themselves?
There are two main reasons why animals choose to camouflage themselves.
Let’s take a look at the most common reasons why they choose to hide by finding a place with colors and patterns matching their skin or by altering the colors on their skin.
- In order to survive
Most animals who camouflage themselves do so to remain unseen. They are trying to stay out of sight in safety from predators.
This is a very effective and good tactic in order to survive. It lets the animals relax and even sleep without having to think about being spotted by an enemy.
This tactic is typically used by smaller animals like insects, lizards, and other reptiles.
- To hunt
Just like the prey, the predator can have an advantage from being hard to spot. When the predator can move around unseen it can sneak up on the prey unnoticed and do a surprise attack.
This tactic is often used by large cats like Lions, Tigers, Panthers, Leopards etc.
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