Animals have different types of adaptation that enable them to survive in the wild. One of the common examples is camouflage. Camouflage is an adaptation which allows them to blend with certain aspects of their environment. Camouflage boosts an organism’s chance of survival by hiding it from the predators.
You might know chameleon, the king of camouflage. It is able to blend the color of its body with its surrounding in order to survive. However, do you know that there are some other types of camouflage? Let’s discuss each of them and get to know the examples of the animals as well.
Color Matching or Concealing Coloration
Color matching may be one of the most basic ways animals camouflage themselves. These animals are able to blend in simply just by matching the color of their surroundings. What kind of animals use color matching to camouflage?
- Lions are the example of the animals which use concealing coloration. They have tawny coats which help them blend in to the color of the savanna habitat. No wonder, lion is also considered as one of the animals that camouflage.
- Chameleon also uses concealing coloration as it is able to alter its coloration at will based on where it is. Chameleons do not only change color to escape from the predators, but it depends on their mood, temperature and other environmental conditions. You can read more about the reasons chameleon camouflage themselves.
- Some types of other animals, such as the Arctic foxes, can change their color to brown in the summer and white in the winter.
- Spotted hyenas are born black, but slowly become lighter and reveal their spots with age. The dark color helps them hide in the shadows of their underground dens. They usually sit there for long periods of time while their mother is out hunting.
The next type of camouflage done by several animals is counter-shading. It is a type of concealing coloration, which have darker upper half and a lighter lower half. The animals do this so that they will appear more than one dimensional and flatter against the background.
The animals which use counter-shading are impala, snakes, fish, water birds, penguins, sharks and whales.
- Impala is the most common example of counter-shading coloration. Impalas have tawny-brown backs, cream sides and white bellies. This dorsoventral change in contrast breaks up the three dimensional form of the impala. It helps them blend into their environment.
- Bush snakes have dark upper side and light belly as well as concealing camouflage using green to match to its tree habitat. They do this so that the aerial predators, such as bush shrikes, view the snake from above, their dark upper is camouflaged well against the shaded green depths of trees and bushes. While viewed from below, their light underside camouflages them against the brighter sky.
- Mozambique tilapia are also well camouflaged against the sand. While they remain still, they are all but invisible to predators, such as herons and storks.
Spots, stripes and other patterns are designed to help the animals to blend into their environment. The shape of the animal is broken up so that it is almost invisible until it moves.
Why does disruptive coloration work? It’s because most mammals only see in black and white. Hence, disruptive camouflage may really be successful for many prey animals and predators.
Examples of animals that use disruptive coloration:
- Zebra, one of the animals in the African rainforest, has very unique black and white stripes. The stripes are not meant to camouflage them into the environment. Instead, they are used to confuse the predator and create a dazzle of stipes. When there’s a predator, a herd of zebra will clump together and run as a group. As a result, it will be very hard for the predator to pick one target.
- Leopards are the other animals which use disruptive coloration. They mostly live in areas where there are light and shadow patches. Their solid color, they would really stand out. However, the rosetted coat breaks up their body outline, which make them less obvious. Their camouflage helps them hide their presence from enemies, such as lions and hyenas, and also their prey. Leopards are commonly mistaken with cheetah. Make sure you know these differences between leopard and cheetah.
- Most water birds and ground birds also match their environment well so that they can avoid detection.
Animals have amazing features that enable them to survive in the wild. If you are interesting to know more about what animals have, you can also read sea animals that can change color too!