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10 Animals That Don't Need Halloween Costumes

30 October 2013 5:00 pm
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Got a costume for Halloween? You’re not the only one. Some animals and insects wear their costumes all year round, masquerading as plants, leaves, and even other creatures to better evade predators—and to hunt their own prey. Some, like the leaf-litter toad, bark-mimicking grasshopper, and mossy leaf-tailed gecko, use cryptic coloration, coloring that conceals their shape, to blend into the background. The mimic octopus, cuttlefish, and chameleon use pigment sacs called chromatophores to rapidly change their skins according to their environment. Whatever you’re dressed as for Halloween, one thing is for sure: These creatures have you beat.

Bill and Mark Bell/Flickr

Bark-mimicking grasshopper. This 5-cm bug perfectly blends into dead vegetation and tree bark in its native Australia. Can you spot it? Look for two antennae in the middle of the picture.

 

Stubblefield Photography/Shutterstock

Mimic octopus. Most octopuses can change their shape and texture to blend in with their environments, but the mimic octopus can go one step further: It impersonates other animals, such as jellyfish, sea snakes, and fish. See it in action here.

 

Orchid mantis.

Laurence Norah/Flickr

Orchid mantis. Don’t let the delicate appearance fool you: This is a predator. Orchid mantises impersonate flowers to trap pollinators such as butterflies. Rather than hiding among other flowers, this floral faker poses on green vegetation, luring in other bugs with its attractive coloring and shape.

 

Long-nosed horned frog

Paul Williams/Flickr

Long-nosed horned frog. These large frogs hide among the leaf litter on the rainforest floor, making it harder for predators to spot them and easier to snag unsuspecting passing prey such as spiders and lizards.

 

Chameleon

lezumbalaberenjena/Flickr

Chameleon. Despite being probably the most famous creature on this list, only some chameleon species can actually change color. Most of its costume changes aren’t for camouflage though—chameleons change their skins in response to environment and temperature, and to signal their moods, aggression, and mating behavior to their buddies.

 

Giant leaf insect

Paul Allais/Flickr

Giant leaf insect. A species of stick insects, the giant leaf insect is a large and docile bug that uses cryptic coloration to avoid predators. According to bug enthusiasts, it likes to stay in character and is very hard to coax into moving.

 

The Southeast Asian bush-cricket

Muhammad Mahdi Karim

The Southeast Asian bush-cricket. Although the adults of these species look like the crickets they are, the young nymphs closely resemble ants, most likely to confuse visual predators.

 

Cuttlefish

Nick Hobgood

Cuttlefish. They may not sound like much, but like octopuses, cuttlefish are extremely smart and adaptive. They can change color and texture extremely fast, sometimes in less than a second. Although colorblind, these creatures are masters of mimicry, capable of blending into sand, seaweed, and even the pitch-black ocean with ease. Watch them in action here.

 

Mossy leaf-tailed Gecko

David d’O/Flickr

Mossy leaf-tailed Gecko. Found in Madagascar, this little reptile changes its skin to match its surrounding. It also uses dermal flaps—little folds of skin—to break up its silhouette when it sits at rest.

 

Decorator crab

Klaus Stiefel/Flickr

Decorator crab. The decorator crab isn’t born with a costume: It makes one. The crab covers its body with seaweed, sponges, and even tiny marine animals to better blend into its environment.

 

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