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Animal Camouflage - OBIS

Last updated about 3 years ago

An animals coloring, markings, shape or behavior can help it camouflage or hide itself from predators or prey. Explore this collection of species that use camouflage to blend into their environments. Click on the species image to go to its EOL page for more information.

Educational Activity

To learn more about how animals use camouflage, an animal adaptation used for survival, check out the Invent an Animal activity from our partners at Outdoor Biology Instructional Strategies (OBIS) from the Lawrence Hall of Science.

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    Octopus vulgaris

    Common Octopus

    The Common Octopus is able to change its appearance depending on its mood and situation.

    Video of an Octopus changing its appearance, color and body structure to disguise itself.

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    Hippocampus bargibanti

    Pygmy Seahorse

    Large, bulbous tubercles cover this species' body and match the color and shape of its host species of gorgonian coral.

    Video of the a Pygmy Seahorse as it blends in with its coral host.

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    Sepia apama


    Giant cuttlefish have the ability to change color and pattern for camouflage and communication.

    Video of a cuttlefish as it uses camouflage to hide among rock reefs and seaweed.

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    Hyla arenicolor

    Canyon Treefrog

    Found in pools at the bottoms of canyons or in trees. Their gray and green coloration and spots allow them to blend in to their surroundings.

    Video of a canyon treefrog in the Molino Basin, Santa Catalina Mountains, Pima County, Arizona, USA.

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    Megascops asio

    Eastern Screech Owl

    Eastern screech-owls have two color morphs, one with gray plumage and the other with rusty-red plumage. Their coloration makes them cryptic or camouflaged.

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    Vulpes lagopus

    Arctic Fox

    Arctic Foxes white fur acts as winter camouflage in the snow. Their coats change color to brown or gray in the warmer months.

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    Lepus americanus

    Snowshoe Hare

    Most Snowshoe Hares change color, from a summer brown coat to winter white, offering camouflage in each season.

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    Botaurus lentiginosus

    American Bittern

    Although not particularly small (around 23 inches), the American Bittern’s mottled brown plumage and short, thick build provide it with excellent camouflage in its heavily vegetated habitat.

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    Caracal caracal


    When threatened, caracals lie flat and their plain, brown coats act as instant camouflage.

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    Biston betularia

    Peppered Moth

    Camouflage patterned wings allow the Black Pepper Moths to rest on tree bark and avoid predators.

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    Panthera pardus


    A leopard's spots allows them to travel inconspicuously and avoid detection.

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    Orthodera novaezealandiae

    Praying Mantis

    The praying mantis uses leafy vegetation for camouflage and as a position to capture prey.

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    Callipepla gambelii

    Gambel's Quail

    These quail prefer to remain motionless and rely on camouflage to avoid predators, especially if hidden by vegetation.

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    Ursus maritimus

    Polar Bear

    The white fur of the polar bear allows it to blend into the snow and ice and sneak up on it's prey.

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    Caprimulgus europaeus

    European Nightjar

    The European Nightjar has patterned tree-bark like plumage that provides excellent camouflage in the daytime when it is inactive.

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    Equus zebra


    At a distance of a few hundred yards, the stripes make a mountain zebra appear indistinct.

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    Urosaurus ornatus

    Ornate Tree Lizard

    Tree lizards take advantage of their camouflage and sedentary nature to surprise unsuspecting prey.

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    Diapheromera femorata


    When predators are present, Common walkingsticks remain motionless with their legs close to their bodies, resembling a twig or stick.