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Animal Camouflage Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

Do you like to play hide and seek? Some animals play hide and seek all the time, and it helps them to survive. In this lesson, you will learn all about animal camouflage and its importance to different animals.

Can You See Me Now?

'Ready or not, here I come!' At some point in your life, you have probably played hide and seek. Any good hide and seek player knows that the key to winning is to blend in with your surroundings, so the seeker cannot find you. For some animals, hiding is more than just a game - it's a means for their survival.

Camouflage is when animals blend in with their surroundings so they are not seen by other living things. There are many different ways an animal can camouflage itself. Two common ways are through concealing and disruptive coloration.

Concealing Coloration

Imagine that you are walking through a snowy field. All of sudden, out of the corner of your eye, you see a white blur run past you. It is a snow shoe hare, and you didn't see it until it started moving. The snow shoe hare is one of many animals that use a form of camouflage called concealing coloration. Concealing coloration occurs when an animal is colored so that it blends in with its background. In this case, the snow shoe hare is white to blend in with the snow on the ground.

By disappearing into their surroundings, animals are able to avoid attacks by predators if they remain still or move slowly. Owls are often colored like the bark of trees in their environment. In the ocean, seahorses often have the same coloring as the coral in which they make their homes. And in the rainforest, tree frogs are a brilliant green to match the leaves around them.

An owl in a tree
owl in tree

Disruptive Coloration

Did you know that zebras can outsmart lions? When a herd of zebras realizes that a lion is about to attack, they all run together. To the lion, the zebra herd appears as one big black and white mass due to their stripes. The lion just sees the black and white movement and can have a difficult time determining where one zebra ends and another begins in order to pounce.

A herd of zebras
zebra herd

Disruptive coloration occurs when the pattern of an animal's skin helps to conceal the outline of the animal against its background. These patterns make it difficult for another animal to determine the shape of what they are seeing, like the lion struggles to see a single zebra in a herd.

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