The world is full of some truly amazing animals. The animal kingdom contains everything from the smallest of ants that can swarm and destroy everything in their path, to giant whales that stretch 100ft in length. What’s also amazing is how animals learn to adapt to changing environments. We’ve already heard of stories of some animals that were once afraid of humans now living in close quarters with people and rarely having problems with them. Some animals, however, still live in a vicious and remorseless kill-or-be-killed environment and must do whatever they can to survive. The best defense against most predators is camouflage, or the ability to blend in with one’s surroundings. This tactic has been used for eons beyond remembrance by various animals, and is even a tactic used by modern military troops. Where do you think modern camo pants came from? Below, are some animals that use this tactic…. so well, you might not be able to find them. See if you can spot the animals hiding in these photos. If you can find all fifteen, you might have some truly exceptional sight.
15. This Leopard
Leopards are known for their spotted coats, which is what makes them so adept at concealing themselves. But unlike many of the animals on this list – which use camouflage to protect themselves from predators – the leopard uses its camouflage specifically for hunting prey. Its blotched patterns mixed with yellowish-orange coloring allow the leopard to disappear among the tall grass of the Savannah, rendering it almost invisible to prey. Once the prey realizes something’s there, it’s often too late, as the leopard is close enough to ambush whatever it’s hunting. In this particular photo, you can barely make out the leopard’s head as he comes up to look around briefly.
14. This Wolf
In the forest, wolves are known as mater hunters that work together in packs to chase down prey. Yet from time to time, some wolves will end up living alone, and thus need to rely on a different tactic to catch prey and hide from threats. In this picture, there’s a wolf hiding near a tree, using its own body’s colors and markings to try and blend in with the white bark of the tree next to him. It’s an almost-perfect trick, as the wolf nearly blends in well enough to resemble a part of the tree’s trunk. Even if you have well-trained eyes, it would still take you at least a few seconds to find the wolf’s head peering out.
13. This Snake In The Sand
Snakes are some of the greatest masters of camouflage in the world. Most of them have to be, as they need to ambush their prey whenever they get too close. After all, snakes’ bodies aren’t really built to chase down something they’re hunting. Though most snakes can indeed camouflage themselves perfectly, some have gone even further in mastering this art of concealment. The snake in this picture is so well-hidden that you can’t even see its body. The only indication that there’s anything living at all in this photo is a pair of eyes staring back at you. The rest of the snake’s body is concealed completely, which makes it that much harder for any desert-dwelling animal to be able to spot this threat and avoid it.
12. This Giraffe
Some people might find it hard to believe that a giraffe would somehow be able to camouflage itself at all. After all, it’s a giant animal that’s hard to miss in any circumstance. Yet that’s what those spotted patterns are for: so that the giraffe can avoid what few predators it has. The giraffe’s blotched body allows it to blend in with the chaotic shrubs and other vegetation around it. Since most of the vegetation is brown and tan in color, the giraffe’s body takes the same patterns so that it can hide. Although you might be able to see the giraffe located in this picture, it might be much harder for many other animals that might want to hunt for giraffes.
11. The Bird In This Picture
Even the most powerful of predatory birds need to sleep, and when they do, they’re vulnerable. Birds have weak bones and soft bodies, so when they sleep they’re exceptionally vulnerable. This owl is one of those animals that has taken that vulnerability and adapted over time to develop a body and feather pattern that allows it to hide among the trees. With its eyes closed, this owl is barely visible in the tree in which it sleeps. But if you look closely enough, its telltale hooked beak will give it away. Still, for a bird to look so convincing as a part of a tree and blend in so well speaks volumes about how amazing these masters of camouflage really are.
10. The Animal In This Picture
Even rocks can be used for camouflage. In this case, there’s an animal that takes advantage of the natural color of rocks to conceal its entire body from animals that might be looking for it, whether they are prey or predators. If you look closely, you might be able to see a mountain lion’s head sticking out as this animal scans the area for any signs of prey. But other than the head, the rest cannot be seen, as this animal has hidden itself so well. This makes sense when you consider that this mountain-dwelling animal probably doesn’t get many opportunities to catch something, so it has to make sure every hunt is successful. For that to happen, it must ensure that it isn’t seen by anyone at any point.
9. The Bird In This Picture
Believe it or not, even snow can be used as the perfect camouflage. The overwhelming majority of animals hibernate or migrate to avoid the cold, because who wants to be outside all day and night in the dead of winter? Apparently some animals still do, including the bird, called a ptarmigan, hiding in this picture. Now you might be thinking, why would a bird need to camouflage itself? It can just fly away if a predator shows up. Well, some predators are faster than the bird’s reflexes, so it needs that protection. Also, there are some birds that eat other birds, so escaping into the sky isn’t always a good option. Thus, this bird’s pure white body blends in perfectly with the snow-covered land around it.
8. The Frog In This Picture
The tiny animal hiding in this picture is almost completely invisible to the naked eye, which tells you how good it is at camouflage. The frog’s body has different color patterns on its back that allows it to blend into the bark it’s hiding on. This is especially useful against birds that like to eat frogs, since they rely on eyesight to track their prey. But even the birds with the best eyes may have a hard time distinguishing between the tree bark and the frog pretending to be tree bark. This is what allows animals like this to survive: it’s as if they know how to hide, so over time their bodies change to blend in with their surroundings, instead of taking on drastic and contrasting colors that make them stand out.
7. The Lizard In This Picture
Trees are often a great source of protection for small animals. Their height protects small animals vulnerable to predators that can’t climb trees, a large number of branches allows quicker animals to evade slower ones, and their different color schemes let some animals hide through camouflage. The gecko in this picture is one of those masters of concealment that has taken advantage of the latter. It’s incredibly hard to see because it’s pushing its body against a grey-colored branch that matches its body’s color scheme. Moreover, since the branch doesn’t have a uniform shape or thickness, it can easily be mistaken as a thicker part of the branch and no one would be any the wiser without touching it.
6. The Grasshopper In This Picture
Insects are among the most aesthetically diverse animals on the planet. Their bodies can take on virtually any color or pattern, which allows them to blend in with their surroundings. In this case, somewhere hidden in this picture is a grasshopper whose body has the same mixed green and black markings as the vegetation around it. Because of this, it can disappear into its surroundings whenever it stops moving, becoming virtually invisible. Though most people have eyesight that allows them to distinguish between natural shrubbery and something pretending to be that, a lot of animals don’t. This benefits the grasshopper, so it doesn’t have to do much to conceal itself from predators that rely on sight to track their prey.
5. The Insect In This Picture
Yes, there is indeed an animal in this picture. One of those twigs isn’t a twig, but a stick insect that, over the ages, has evolved into the perfect mimic for a random twig. These insects are masters of disguise. Their bodies are long and thin, as their name implies. Moreover, its legs are also skinny and look like even smaller twigs. As a result, this insect can take perfect advantage of debris found in trees and on the forest floor and blend into it seamlessly. The question is, can you tell which twig is the stick insect in disguise?
4. The Caterpillar In This Picture
It’s one thing to be able to mimic something as innocuous as a leaf in a defensive strategy to hide from predators. It’s another thing entirely to be able to match your body pattern to a match the stem of that same leaf to make you melt into the leaf completely. That’s what this caterpillar has done in this picture. It is incredibly hard to see, with the only tell being its legs, which are likewise barely visible. In fact, the way this caterpillar is positioned in this photo makes it seem transparent. This is an amazing example of evolution in action, as this vulnerable caterpillar manages to protect itself from its myriad of predators in a perfect way.
3. This Huntsman Spider
Spiders are among the world’s most widespread animals, found almost everywhere on the planet. In fact, there’s a saying that you’re never more than six feet away from a spider, no matter where you are. In this case, you could be walking past a tree covered in moss or lichen and you wouldn’t even notice a spider sitting on it. This is one of those ambush predator spiders that waits motionless for prey to wander by; most of them wouldn’t be capable of seeing or sensing this nearly-invisible hunter. By the time they notice it, it’s probably too late. So next time you’re wandering in the forest and you want to rest by a tree that happens to be covered in moss, think twice. You might end up brushing up against a lightning-quick spider that you never saw.
2. This Gecko Impersonating A Leaf
A lot of people that have seen this picture have accused it of being photoshopped. That isn’t the case; this is a 100% authentic photo that only came out this way due to the lucky combination of position and lighting. Somewhere on this branch is a gecko that has adapted so much that it now looks like a withering brown leaf. But what’s amazing is that not only does the gecko’s body color match the leaf’s, but even it’s body’s shape and body pattern resemble the leaf perfectly. It’s as if this gecko managed to copy/paste this leaf’s design and put it on its own body. It must’ve been hard enough to find this animal to take this photograph; one can only imagine how tough it must be for a predator to find this gecko.
1. This Nearly-Invisible Spider
You might not be able to see it, but there’s a tiny spider in this picture. The reason it’s so hard to see is because it’s body is patterned in a way that makes it blend with the sand and tiny rocks in the desert it calls home. It’s amazing to see that an animal as primitive as a spider has managed to adapt in such a way that its body matches the amorphous design of rocks and stones of various shades and shapes that are found in the desert. This is probably the most perfect example of camouflage in action, as this spider is invisible to all but the most eagle-eyed observers.