Camouflage: Function, Examples of Animals, and Differences from Mimicry

Camouflage is one of the things that animals usually do in the wild. Every living creature will definitely struggle and try to adapt to its environment by adapting. Camouflage as a way of adaptation that animals do to survive, avoid predators or when they want to prey.

Camouflage is a change in shape, appearance, attitude, color and so on to be different so that you are not recognized. In addition, camouflage can also be referred to as a method that allows an organism or object that is usually easily seen, to be camouflaged or difficult to distinguish from the surrounding environment.

For more details, here’s an explanation of camouflage to examples of animals that can camouflage.

Definition of Camouflage in Animals

Camouflage is the behavior of animals looking for places that are the same color as the animal’s body color. This is so that he is not seen by his enemies. By being in a place with the same color, the animal hopes that it will be difficult for the enemy to find it.

In addition to animals that have body colors that are similar to their environment, there are also animals that can actually change their body color or shape. Some octopus species can even change as many as 30–50 different forms.

There are also sharks and birds whose body colors differ on the back and chest to be able to hide by taking advantage of sunlight. This ability to camouflage animals inspired army clothing used to hide from enemies.

Camouflage Function in Animals

Camouflage serves to disguise the presence of an organism with its environment. Animals can camouflage in their natural habitat and are often conspicuous outside their natural habitat.

In forest species, especially mammals, they have spots or stripes to help them camouflage. For example, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs and tigers have patterned bodies. When they hide in the right environment then camouflage will occur.

They are invisible because they blend in with their environment, so they can pounce on their prey unnoticed. Other examples are green snakes that live in trees with lots of green leaves, green grasshoppers that live in leaves, to polar bears that seem to blend into the white plains of ice in their environment.

When in the right environment, these animals can camouflage perfectly. However, camouflage will not work if they are in a completely different environment to the color, shape and pattern of their bodies.

Examples of Animals that can Camouflage

There are several animals with camouflage abilities, including the following:

1. Octopus (Octopus)

Besides having eight suction arms that do not let go of its prey, this octopus is also good at camouflage. Camouflage is done to avoid predators as well as to defend yourself from enemies.

Although octopuses are usually pale gray or white in color, these colors can change according to the environmental conditions around them. This camouflage ability itself comes from flexible color sacs that are able to change the thickness of the color and shadows in the epidermal tissue.

2. Leaf tail gecko

Leaf tail gecko or commonly called Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko has a habitat in Central and East Africa. This gecko from Madagascar can grow up to 9 cm in length.

It is an animal that is active at night (nocturnal), so during the day it tends to be quiet or passive by sticking close to the trees. This animal was first discovered in 1888 ago. Although it had disappeared, the creepy gecko was reportedly found again in 1998 in Madagascar.

3. Potoo Bird

The Potoo bird (Ncytibius Grandis) is a bird that is very good at camouflage. These nocturnal animals have fur colors that vary from gray to brown. It allowed him to be seen faintly among the trees in the wilderness. The Potoo bird has habitats in the forest areas of southern Mexico, northeastern Guatemala and parts of Central America such as Brazil and Bolivia.

4. Green frog

This frog has very good camouflage abilities like the long-horned frog (Megophrys nasuta) on the island of Borneo. He has muscular legs stout, head flatter than the width of the body.

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His body shape also makes it easier for him to camouflage on green leaves and tree trunks to wait for passing prey. With a green body texture, of course, it makes it easier for him to hide or disguise himself in the leaves.

5. Leopard

This animal is also known as the tiger branch because of its ability to climb. Large leopards have a body length of one to two meters.

6. Leaf fish

The leaf fish comes from the Amazon River which camouflages like a dead leaf, starting from its body shape to its movement which slowly oscillates with the current on the surface of the river.

This leaf fish preys on smaller small fish by attracting the attention of prey through an organ on its chin that resembles a worm. When the prey is approaching, super fast (less than a quarter of a second) it extends its mouth, sucks the victim and returns to its original position.

7. Praying mantis

The praying mantis has a very unique camouflage. Not only to outwit predators, but these animals are also very clever in deceiving potential prey. In addition to its body shape which can resemble leaves or twigs, its body movements also follow the movements of twigs or leaves blown by the wind.

8. Katydid (leaf locust)

The “withered leaf” grasshopper is an interesting creature and the evolution of natural selection has endowed this animal with the ability to imitate withering leaves to outwit predators.

9. Dead leaf butterfly

Dead leaf butterflies are amazing creatures to observe up close. This illustrates the intricate details adaptation obtains through natural selection, which is the driving force of evolution. So these details help the butterfly avoid predators by mimicking dead leaves.

10. Phyllium giganteum

This insect has an elongated, stick-like body and wings greatly reduced or absent altogether. This insect does not have a tympanum and a sound producer. In addition, these insects are slow-moving plant eaters, usually found in trees or shrubs and are active at night (nocturnal).

11. Seahorse

Seahorses swim in an upright body position. The head is up and the tail is down. How to swim seahorse is different from other fish. Vertically up. Seahorses swim under the influence of the air bubble control system. Seahorses move up and down in the water by changing the air content in their air sacs.

The movement is also quite slow because it is only done using the dorsal fin or dorsal fin. The size of the dorsal fin is relatively very small, while the pectoral fins are used to maintain balance.

Due to the relatively small size of their fins, seahorses don’t like to swim far. This marine biota prefers to anchor itself to the substrate by using its tail which functions as an anchor. This tail is attached to seaweed, coral reefs or other objects in the environment.

If the air sac is damaged, the seahorse cannot regulate its body’s buoyancy, causing the seahorse to lose its buoyancy balance and sink to the seabed. This condition is fatal and can cause death. Seahorses come in a variety of colors, depending on the location where they live. Types that live in shallow waters around seaweed and sea grass have a brownish yellow color.

The seahorses that live in deep waters between sponges and sea plants, are generally orange to red in color. Most types of seahorses are amber in color that live around brown sea plants. Some species can change color to contrast with their environment.

The various colors and unique shapes are the main attraction as aquarium ornamental fish. However, the basic color of the seahorse varies from predominantly white to earthy yellow. Sometimes it has light and dark spots or lines. When feeling threatened, seahorses will change their body color to match their environment.

These changes slowly occur throughout his body depending on the intensity of the light. Seahorse is one of the animals that often and very easily changes color. The color difference in seahorses is not a sex difference. The change in seahorse body color is related to reproductive behavior and camouflage to avoid danger.

Difference between Camouflage and Mimicry

Survival in the environment requires adaptation of all species. These adaptations are physiological, morphological, anatomical or behavioral. Most species prefer to get the best of the other through predation or other means.

Therefore, animals in particular had to develop many adaptations to survive. That’s what life is worth, and it’s not a sweet journey to survive and thrive in the world.

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Camouflage and mimicry are two of the morphological adaptations shown by animals. Although both are morphologically developed for survival, there are some major differences between camouflage and mimicry.


Camouflage is a method of external coloring found in most animals that blends specifically with the appearance of the environment. The coloring patterns that exist on the animal’s body are very similar to the environment in which it lives.

Camouflage is an adaptation to avoid being noticed by other animals, especially from predators for prey animals or vice versa. Camouflage has three main ways to achieve it known as Mimesis, Crypsis and Dazzle. In animals with mimetic camouflage, the animal can be seen as another object. Leaf insects would be the best examples for understanding the mimesis.

Certain animals are nearly unrecognizable when displaying crisis camouflage. The cheetah of the savannah has spots on a golden-brown background, which blend into the environment in such a way that the predator cannot be seen by prey animals.

The animal changes its body color to a snow-white coat in winter to appear like snow. However, these animals can be seen when their shadows are cast. Because of this, some animals have adapted to taking extra precautions with flattened bodies and blending colourations, so that the shadows disappear. The flat-tailed horned lizard of the desert is a great example of vanishing a cryptic animal in disguise.

Zebra colouration is an example of the third type of camouflage, namely dazzle. Zebras cannot be seen properly even as they move through the wilderness. The camouflage phenomenon has made animals protected and not noticed or disturbed.


Mimicry is a type of camouflage, mimesis that confuses other animals with its appearance. Mimicry is a kind of action that mimics real animals like other animals. It involves various techniques of impersonating other people by mimicking their external appearance, voice, smell and behavior.

Usually, the mimicry deserves protection from predators by resembling a dangerous animal. However, mimicry has three main aspects known as defensive, aggressive and reproductive.

The warning colors present on some non-venomous colubridae snakes have a pattern that is exactly the same as that of kraits. Sometimes, predatory animals have the appearance of harmless animals, making it convenient to approach prey animals. The zonal tailed eagle looks like a turkey vulture and also inhabits its surroundings. Then, the eagle eats the vulture all of a sudden. The coloring and behavioral tactics of a hawk are examples of aggressive mimicry.

Reproductive mimicry can be observed in animals as well as plants. The flowers of some plants resemble leaves or are of no use to consumers, so they are safe until reproduction is complete. Mimicry has been a tactic used by animals and plants to maintain their lives by confusing others.

From the explanation above, it can be concluded that the difference between camouflage and mimicry is as follows:

  1. Camouflage is basically a coloring tactic to go unnoticed or protected, whereas mimicry is a tactic to confuse other animals.
  2. Camouflage sometimes hides animals, whereas mimicry never hides animals or plants.
  3. Camouflage is usually applied to animals, but mimicry can also be found in plants.
  4. Camouflage has no hidden dangers for certain animal consumers, while aggressive imitation always has hidden dangers.
  5. Camouflage usually resembles the environment, but mimicry resembles that of other animals.

Reasons Animals Change Their Body Color

There are several animals that have other reasons to change their body color, namely:

1. Demonstrate a power struggle by changing colors

For example, like a chameleon that has two opposite states. When two males meet each other, there will be a fierce fight. In this case, the show changes color.

Weaker male chameleons, often smaller and paler in color. Usually will admit defeat by stopping to change color first.

2. Attract the attention of the couple with color

When the animal changes its appearance it is usually to impress the female during courtship. However, no matter how brilliant it looks. Females are usually not interested and they will use their color to tell the males.

For example, in chameleon animals, when a female chameleon has mated with another male chameleon, she will refuse by changing her color to be very dark and very aggressive. Male chameleons can be violent, so it is important for females to avoid them.

It turns out that many animals use camouflage to avoid enemies, Sinaumed’s. By knowing about the camouflage, it is easy for us to know and examine a particular object.

Those are some things about camouflage in various kinds of animals.