5… 4… 3… 2… 1… ready or not, here we come! Playing hide and seek is one of the great joys of childhood. For animals in the wild, though, playing hide and seek is more than a game. For many, it’s a matter of life and death!

If you’ve ever learned about a food chain in nature, you know that some animals eat others. The animals that hunt others are called “predators.” The animals they hunt are called “prey.”

Prey animals often use camouflage to hide from predators. Camouflage is a way of hiding that allows an animal to blend in with its environment or otherwise go unnoticed by predators.

There are four basic ways animals camouflage themselves. First, some animals hide themselves by staying against a background that matches their color.

We call this simple method “concealing coloration.” For example, the snowy owl’s white coloring helps it blend in with its snowy surroundings.

Of course, as seasons change, some animals find that their winter coloring no longer helps conceal them in warmer weather.

As a result, some animals change coloration throughout the year to keep up with changing seasons. Environmental cues, such as the temperature or the amount of daylight, may trigger these changes.

Other animals have unique markings, such as spots, stripes and patterns, that you might think would make them stand out too much. These special markings — called “disruptive coloration” — can actually help break up their outline, so that they don’t stand out.

For example, a zebra’s stripes help it blend in. Although we can clearly see zebras, colorblind lions often see their stripes as blending in with tall grasses.

Some really clever animals blend in with their surroundings by looking like a common object. We call this method “disguise.”

For example, the walking stick is an insect that looks so much like a branch that it can be nearly impossible to spot in the wild!

The last method of camouflage animals might use is called “mimicry.” Animals that use mimicry help keep themselves safe by looking like another dangerous, poisonous or bad-tasting animal or insect.

For example, the Viceroy butterfly mimics the look of the poisonous Monarch butterfly to avoid predators.

No discussion of camouflage would be complete without mentioning that ultimate color-changer, the chameleon. Chameleons are widely known for their ability to change their skin color.

However, what many people may not realize is that chameleons tend to change their skin color when their mood changes, not to camouflage themselves in new or different surroundings!


40 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (30 votes, avg. 4.30 out of 5)
    • Hi, Muggle! Although it is very sad to think of the tragic events that took place on 9/11, we’ll always remember the thousands of incredible HEROES who showed such great courage on that day and in the days, weeks, months and years following! Thank you for commenting today, and for being such a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  1. Hi Wonderopolis! I didn’t know that zebras could camouflage themselves with their stripes. After you told me, I could not believe it. Bye!

    Maddy M

    • Hi, Maddy! We think nature can be really cool! Thanks for letting us know that you learned something new from today’s Wonder! :-)

    • Hello, The Beach (Mrs. Guerin’s 2nd Grade Class)! We thought the video was amazing, too! We admit, it was difficult to quickly pick out some of those creatures from their surroundings! They are REALLY good at hide and seek! :-)

  2. Wow! That wonder was so cool. Thanks for the great wonder. It was cool and it was like eye-spy. It was the best wonder I’ve ever seen. Thank you, that wonder was the best.

    • We really appreciate your enthusiasm for this Wonder of the Day®, Kyle! Thank you so much for letting us know how much you liked it! What was your favorite creature to “find” in the video? :-)

  3. It would almost seem impossible for a predator to find its prey with all these camouflaged creatures. Especially that spider. Was that actual size? It was huge!

    • That spider WAS huge, Clayton! It had REALLY long legs, too! We’re pretty sure that it was actual size. Our favorite animal camouflage from the video was the walking stick bug. We had to look super close to see where the plant ended and the bug began! Thanks so much for visiting this Wonder of the Day® and for leaving us an awesome comment! :-)

  4. I am sharing this with my classes tomorrow!! I am using the picture of the leopard as my wallpaper to start the class!! They are going to love it. Cant wait!

    • We are so happy to read your comment, Angie! Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about Wonderopolis! Let us know how your students like the animal hide and seek, OK? :-)

    • We think that’s AWESOME, Sherry! We had a fun time trying to find all the “hidden” animals in the video, too! Thank you so much for sharing Wonderopolis with your students! :-)

  5. Hi Wonderopolis!
    I loved this article about camouflage. I couldn’t even find some of the animals in the video! I learned that one kind of camouflage is called “disruptive coloration”. This is when animals break their own outline by having spots, stripes, or patterns. I also learned that another kind of camouflage is called “mimicry”. This is when an animal or insect makes itself look like a dangerous, poisonous, or bad-tasting animal or insect. One wonder I have is “Why are lions color blind?”

    • You are doing a super job of WONDERing today, Rayla! Thanks for telling us about what you learned from our hide and seek Wonder! HOORAY for you! :)

  6. I never knew there were 4 kinds of blending in methods that animals use. I thought the video was cool how the animals were blended into their environment.
    I never knew that some the animals blended into the season to match their environment. We learned a lot from this video and text.

    Resurrection Grade 3/4

    • Thank you so much for WONDERing with us today, Brodie, Clarence, Emma and Jacob! It sounds like you learned all about how animals can hide in plain sight! We Wonder what it would be like to blend into our environment the way that animals do! Thank you for sharing your comment with us today, Wonder Friends! We are thrilled you’re here on this fantastic Friday!

      See you soon! :)

  7. I enjoyed this video! I learned that there are a lot more animals and creatures that can be camouflaged and hide from others! It was interesting to see some animals and insects that I never knew that could be camouflaged. I would like to know more about the climates for these creatures!

    • Hi Emily! We are so glad that you liked the video! That is a WONDERful question, and there are so many WONDERS where you can continue to wonder about creatures! here-http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/where-do-bugs-sleep/ :)

  8. I learned that animals have a reason to play hide and seek. I would like to know more about how animals play hide and seek.
    I thought it was interesting that animals have their skin color for a reason. I wish that I could have camouflage to play hide and seek.

  9. I learned that animals use camouflage to save themselves from predators and that animals can change colors seasonally. I would like to know more about how they can change and how much it helps them to be camouflaged. I thought it was interesting that many animals have the advantage to change colors.I thought it was cool that animals change colors to hide and would like to know more about it.

  10. I’ve learned that some animals use mimicry to stay hidden. I would like to know more about how their game of hide and seek works and how they defend themselves when they are found. I thought it was interesting how butterflies use this ability! I wish I was able to hide and to change colors just like Chameleons!

  11. I learned that animals do play hide and seek, but not as a game as it’s life or death for animals. I would like to know more about that which animals take it more seriously than others. I thought it was interesting that there are many ways and places to blend in. This thing is very interesting because I didn’t know that animals play hide and seek.

  12. I learned that they hide like that from predators. I would like to know more about how they where born or how they have the ability to do that. I thought it was interesting how they hid like that. All those animals have cool abilities.

  13. We learned that animals use their fur, wings, or skin to hide from their predators. We still wonder if animal play hide and go seek. We think they do. What do you think?

    • We’re so glad you are WONDERing with us, Hally and Dreamia! We think animals do play hide and seek too! Do you like to play the game? We certainly do! :) :)

  14. I learned that animals use camouflage to hide from predators I also learned that there are 4 basic ways that an animal hides itself, I also learned that lions are colorblind and can’t see Zebras, although I think the lion can kind of sense its movement and body heat, although I don’t know that for sure, its a hypothesis. Thanks for the fascinating facts! :)

    • We think you did a fine job sharing what you learned, Isabella! Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis! Have a WONDER-filled day! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Do animals play hide and seek?
  • What types of camouflage do animals use?
  • Can chameleons really change colors?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Think you can spot animals that are trying to hide in nature? Put your eyes to the test!

Check out these photos of naturally camouflaged animals. Can you find them all?

Do you think you could camouflage yourself in the wild if you needed to? What if you were a spy? How might you camouflage yourself if you were in the woods? What about in the city?

What color would you wear to hide in the snow? What kinds of outfits do military personnel wear as camouflage in the desert?

Think of ways you might disguise yourself. If you have the clothes or other items you might use to disguise yourself, give it a try.

If you come up with a really sneaky disguise, take a picture of your camouflaged self hiding in plain sight. Email us a picture if you can. We’d love to see — or not see! — you!


Still Wondering

Check out Science NetLinks’ Where in the Wild? lesson to learn more about how some animals have features that make them harder to find in their surroundings.


Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow, Wonderopolis pays tribute to the anniversary of an American tragedy by taking a look at everyday people thrust into extraordinary situations.

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.