Critter Camouflage

It’s tough to survive in the world today
When you’re part of the web of predator and prey
While I’m hiding from the ones who would eat me for lunch
I’m also looking for things that I’d like to munch!
To help me survive I have a special feature
One that makes me a really special creature
You may not believe it, but it’s no mirage
It’s my wonderful one-of-a-kind camouflage!
Watch me as I disappear before your very eyes—
That’s why they call me the Master of Disguise!

Think of a color, any color. Chances are there is an animal somewhere that matches the color in your mind! Animals come in almost every hue, from plain brown to neon green and everything in between. They have spots, stripes, patches, blotches, zigs and zags. Have you ever wondered why animals come in so many different colors? And why does a cheetah have spots when an elephant doesn’t?

We often find the colors and patterns of animals very beautiful. Sometimes humans even try to copy the looks of animals in their own clothes and decorations. But for the animals, colors and patterns are more than just fashion. The way an animal looks—whether it blends in with its surroundings or sticks out—can mean the difference between life and death for an animal with predators.

Camouflage—being able to blend in with your surroundings—is one of the special adaptations that many animals have to give them an edge in the game of survival. So, many of the wonderful colors, patterns, and shapes that animals sport are actually types of camouflage. 
The kind of camouflage that an animal has depends on where it lives and what its life is like. Scientists divide these types of camouflage into groups.

Following one of the links below to start exploring the world of camouflage.

Color Change   Counter Shading   Disruptive Coloration   Mimicry

The Sacramento Zoological Society  // 501(c)(3) nonprofit
3930 West Land Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95822  //  916-808-5888
© 2016 Sacramento Zoo, All Rights Reserved

Sacramento Zoo's home page button