“Camouflage refers to the use of combination of materials, illumination or colouration that makes the animals hard to see or disguises them as something else.”
What is Camouflage?
Camouflage refers to the term disguise. It is a natural phenomenon used by plants and animals to disguise themselves as per their environment. They mimic according to their surroundings to avoid detection. Thus it increases the chance of survival by hiding it from predators.
Camouflage is the natural defence mechanism developed in the prey. During this phenomenon, animals change their skin colour or disguise themselves as per their surrounding colour so that they cannot be detected by other predators. Certain predators also use this mechanism for hunting. For instance, Stone Flounder, a flatfish, is one such predator which lays on the ocean floor in search for its prey.
The camouflage tactics of animals depend upon several factors. For eg., animals with fur use different camouflage tactics than those with scales and feathers. This is because, fur takes months and weeks to change colour and shed, whereas scales can shed and change colours quickly.
Camouflage can be created in two ways:
- With the help of pigments
- With physical structures
Octopus bears microscopic pigments called biochromes that absorbs and reflects light to change the real colour of the animal.
On the other hand, animals such as polar bears have certain physical structures in their hair that scatter light of all colours and the animal appears white.
Also Read: Adaptation and Habitats
Camouflage in Animals
Camouflage is mainly used by animals to:
- Hide from their predators.
- Make it difficult for their prey to escape and sneak up.
- Use colouring and markings to blend into their environments.
Types of Camouflage in Animals
Most of the forest habitat animals are brown and animals of Arctic and tundra region are white. Here animal hides against a background of the same colour in order to protect themselves from predators and also for hunting their prey.
- Few animals like snowshoe hare, found in North American regions change their body colour to hide from its prey-lynx. These species are usually white in winter and their fur changes to brown during summer by shedding their fur.
- Chameleons change their colour to hide and to reflect their mood.
- Octopus can change both colour and their skin texture.
The dark spots or stripes found on the animal’s skin are mainly used to camouflage themselves and to escape from their predators.
- A group of zebras heaving together looks like a large mass to a lion. This makes hard for a lion to attack them.
- Predators like leopards and tigers have this disruptive colouration that helps in moving or hiding in between the branches before attacking its prey.
The change in their appearance or colour which gets the blend with their surroundings by their colour, texture and shape.
This type of camouflage is mainly seen in insects like spiders, leaf butterfly, dragonfly katydid, stick bugs or stick insect, etc.
Most of the animals copycat or mimic other animals to fool and escape from their predators. The mimicry can either be in appearance or behaviour or sound or odour.
Viceroy butterflies mimic monarch butterfly to safeguard them from their predators –like birds. Birds never attack monarch butterfly as they are poisonous.
Also Read: Bioluminiscence
Examples Of Camouflage Animals
Following are a few examples of camouflage animals:
- Uroplatus Geckos
- Stick insect
- Snow Leopard
Also Read: Industrial Melanism
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