Camouflage: Nature's Defence

The animal kingdom is wild, exotic and brilliant. It is amazing how animals find ingenious ways to attack and protect themselves as they lead their day to day lives. One of the most fascinating survival techniques that the animals use is Camouflage.

The word camouflage is pronounced cam·ou·flage, and comes from the French word camoufler which means ‘to disguise’. Camouflage is the art of blending oneself against the natural background so as not be noticed by anyone. The animals use the art of camouflaging both as an attack and defense mechanism. They change colour, their body shape and structure, even the pattern and texture of their skin to keep themselves safe, or to give another animal a false sense of security before they attack.

There are so many animals that use camouflage - like tigers, polar bears, chameleons, soft shell crabs, sea dragons, leaf insects, stick insects, dead leaf mantis and ghost mantis among many others.

Let us look at 5 animals that use the gift of camouflage brilliantly:

1. Chameleon

A chameleon is a kind of lizard that has the amazing ability to change colours. Chameleons can change to very diverse colours like green, blue, red, black, brown, orange, pink, yellow etc based on their backgrounds. When angry, the chameleons tend to show dark colours!


Courtesy: Shutterstock

Almost half of the chameleon species (approx. 150) can be found in Madagascar.

Did you know

Namaqua chameleon that lives in deserts can use a technique called as thermoregulation
It becomes black in the mornings when it is cool and light grey during the hot day to absorb and reflect heat more efficiently.

2. Leaf Butterflies

Mostly found in Southeast Asia (especially India), the leaf butterflies look exactly like their name. Nature has designed their rear wing-shape and surface-pattern to resemble one of those fallen dried leaves - in different shades of brown. When these Oakleaf butterflies close their wings, the similarity is so striking that they blend perfectly with the sun dried fallen leaves. Leaf butterflies are also popularly called as Orange Oakleaf or Dead Leaf butterflies.


Courtesy: Rahul K Natu

Next time you walk on those dry brown leaves, be careful!

3. Mimic Octopus

Another incredible creature is the Mimic Octopus. And yes, it does exactly that: Mimicry! A mimic octopus is not only gifted with the ability to change skin colour and texture but to blend in by taking the shape of other objects and animals!

mimic octopus showing different pattern
Courtesy: Steve Childs

4.Stick Insect

The stick insect has a stick like body that helps it to blend in with the twigs and branches. A stick insect is also able to change its colour to merge with its surroundings.

stick insect
Courtesy: Dreamstime

5. Leaf Insect

The leaf insect not only looks like a leaf but also moves as if it was a leaf swaying in the wind. This is the reason why it is also known by the name of ‘moving leaf’ or ‘leaf-mimic’.


Courtesy: Shutterstock

A leaf insect resembles a leaf both in colour and shape.