Animal Camouflage

By Nichole Sovey
Latest update to this document: 23 April 2003

This site is designed to teach grade 4 how and why animals camouflage.


What is Animal Camouflage?

A method of hiding itself for by making itself appear as part of its natural surroundings. In natures animals need ever advantage they can get to insure their survival. It is use to hide from predators and pray. Some animals blend in with their environment some change their camouflage to adapt to their surroundings. Some animals do not hide at all, they through predictors off by looking like something dangerous or uninteresting. This frog is hard to see because its neutral camouflage make him look like the surroundings.


How Camouflage Works

The nature of the camouflage varies from species to species.

There are several factors that determine what sort of camouflage a species develops:

For most animals, "blending in" is the most effective approach. You can see this sort of camouflage everywhere. Deer, squirrels, rabbits, and many other animals have brownish, "earth tone" colors that match the brown of the trees and soil at the forest ground level. Sharks, dolphins and many other sea creatures have a grayish-blue coloring, which helps them blend in with the soft light underwater.

There are two ways in which animals produce different colors.

Both physical and chemical coloration is determined genetically; they are passed on from parent to offspring. A species develops camouflage coloration gradually, through the process of natural selection. In the wild, an individual animal that more closely matches its surroundings is more likely to be overlooked by predators, and so lives longer. Consequently, the animal that matches its surroundings is more likely to produce offspring than an animal that does not match. The camouflager's offspring will likely inherit the same coloration, and they will also live long enough to pass it on. In this way, the species as a whole develops ideal coloration for survival in their environment.

The means of coloration depends on an animal's physiology. In most mammals, the camouflage coloration is in the fur, since this is the outermost layer of the body. In reptiles, amphibians and fish, it is in the scales; in birds it is in the feathers; and in insects it is part of the exoskeleton. The actual structure of the outer covering may also evolve to create better camouflage. In squirrels, for example, the fur is fairly rough and uneven, so it resembles the texture of tree bark. Many insects have a shell that replicates the smooth texture of leaves.



Changing Colors

Some animals can change their colors to adapt to the surrounding around them. Usually this is due to changes in the seasons. In the spring and summer, a mammal's habitat might be full of greens and browns, while in the fall and winter, everything can be covered with snow. While brown coloration is perfect for a summer wooded environment, it makes an animal an easy target against a white background. Many birds and mammals deal with this by producing different colors of fur or feathers depending on the time of year. In most cases, either changing amounts of daylight or shifts in temperature trigger a hormonal reaction in the animal that causes it to produce different biochromes.
ARTIC FOX



Tricky Protection

As mentioned earlier some animals do not hide at all. These animal trick their predictors into think they are something else or something uninteresting.
These are the wings of a butterfly. Predators think they are looking at two big eyes and stay away.


Can you find the Camouflage Animals?

Favorite/useful Links


Links

CS255 Computers in El Ed Home Page

Link to Northern Michigan University


N Sovey: nsovey@nmu.edu