Camouflage Facts



  • Stripes benefit both predators and prey by breaking up the body shape, for example in tigers and zebras.
  • The simplest camouflage makes an animal a similar colour to its surroundings, such as the white of a polar bear in snow.
  • Some dolphins and whales are dark on top and light underneath, camouflaging them against the dark of deep water or the light of sky.
  • Some camouflage mimics the broken shapes of light shining through trees, as in the dappled markings of giraffes.
  • The pattern of a giraffe’s coat varies according to area and is an important camouflage tool.
  • The young of many mammal species, such as lions and pigs, have early camouflage markings that disappear as the animals grow older.
  • The coats of Arctic foxes and hares change from dark in summer to white in winter.
  • Bold markings, such as the contrasting shapes of the oryx, camouflage by breaking up body outline.
  • The bobcat’s spots camouflage it in rocks, while the similar-shaped plain lynx merges with its forest home.
  • The elephant’s huge grey form disappears as it stands still in the shadows.
  • The orca’s light underparts make it less visible against the water’s surface in daytime.
  • Not all camouflage is visual – some mammals roll in dung to disguise their own scents.
  • This red-checked nightjar blends superbly with the fallen leaves on which it nests.
  • Protective colouring helps an animal hide from its enemies or warns them away.
  • Camouflage is when an animal is coloured to blend in with its surroundings, making it hard to see.
  • Ground-nesting birds like the nightjar are mottled brown, making them hard to spot among fallen leaves.
  • The fur of wild pig and tapir babies is striped and spotted to make them hard to see in the dappled light of the jungle.
  • Some creatures mimic the colours of poisonous ones to warn predators off. Harmless hoverflies, for instance, look just like wasps.
  • Some animals frighten off predators with colouring that makes them look much bigger. Peacock butterflies have big eyespots on their wings.
  • Courting animals, especially male birds like the peacock, are often brightly coloured to attract mates.
  • A zebra’s stripes may seem to make it easy to see, but when it is moving they actually blur its outline and confuse predators.
  • Squid can change their colour to blend in with new surroundings.
  • Disruptive colouring distorts an animal’s body so that its real shape is disguised.
  • Bright colours often warn predators that an animal is poisonous or tastes bad. For example, ladybirds are bright red and the cinnabar moth’s caterpillars are black and yellow because they taste foul.