Animals

10 Animals That Change Color

Some animals have the unique ability to change color. The ability to change color can help animals protect themselves from their predators as it allows them to blend into their natural environment. Here is a list of 10 animals that change color.

10. Chameleons

chameleons

Source: Frank Winkler
A chameleon is a unique lizard species known for its changing skin color. He does this to camouflage with his surroundings. Sometimes chameleons change color when they are angry or scared. To change its color, the chameleon adapts a layer of specialized cells that lie under its skin. Others change color in response to humidity, light and temperature. Chameleons never stop growing. They continue to shed their skin from time to time. In addition, chameleons have excellent eyesight which is characterized by 360-degree arc vision. Although chameleons do not hear, their bodies do detect sound in the environment.

9. Golden Tortoiseshell Beetle

golden turtle beetle

Source: Katja Schulz | CC BY 2.0 Generic
The golden turtle beetle is an insect that can change color. Species with this ability include Charidotella sexpunctata and Charidotella egregia. The turtle beetles change color due to certain events in their environment. Such events include meeting a willing partner and being touched by a curious human. Therefore, when mating or agitated, the turtle beetles change their color from gold to bright red. The change of color occurs as a result of a process referred to as optical illusion.

8. Thaum octopus mimicus

Thaum octopus mimicus

Source: Elias Levy
The trhaumoctopus mimicus is an octopus that can change color and they can also mimic other sea creatures such as lionfish, jellyfish, stingrays and sea snakes. The trhaumoctopus mimicus can choose the color of the sea creature they intend to mimic. The trhaumoctopus mimicus octopuses change their body shape to avoid potential predators. The change in skin color helps them adapt to their environment. Trhaumoctopus mimicus octopuses can change color and mimic shapes through their skin which is very sensitive to the environment.

7. Pacific Tree Frog

pacific tree frog

Source: The High Fin Sperm Whale | CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported
The Pacific tree frog lives in North America. One of the common features is the sticky toe pads. The sticky toe pads make it possible to climb trees and plants. The Pacific tree frog changes color to blend in with its environment. The change of color is a defense mechanism against predators such as raccoons, bullfrogs, snakes, herons and many others. Pacific tree frogs also change color based on the seasons and temperature. When temperatures are high, they turn a yellow color. An example of Pacific tree frog species that change color is Hyla regilla. The process of color change in Pacific tree frogs takes 1 to 2 minutes.

6. Seahorses

seahorses

Source: David Clode
Seahorses, such as the Hippocampus histrix, are among the sea creatures that have mastered changing their color. The purpose of changing their skin color is to camouflage, scare predators, communicate their emotions, and courtship. Complex interactions between the brain, nervous system, hormones and organelles allow the seahorses to change their color. The organelles responsible for these color changes are known as chromatophores. As for the rate at which the skin color changes, it depends on the stimulus. For example, in a life or death situation such as a predator, the color changes quickly. But when the seahorse courts a mate, the change happens slowly.

5. Flounders

Flounders

Source: Karl Callwood
Flounders are naturally brown. However, they can change color according to their environment. A Flounder uses its vision and specialized cells in the skin to change color. The cells, in turn, have color pigments and are connected to the eyes of the flounders. When a bone moves to a new environment, the retina in the eyes picks up the new color. This transmits the color that the eyes see to the cells. The cells adapt the pigmentation to the color of the surface. Scientists have found that flounders rely entirely on their eyesight to change color. If their eyes are damaged, they have trouble camouflaging to their surroundings. An example of a ray-finned fish species from the bony family is the Bothus mancus.

4. Cuttlefish

cuttlefish

Source: Pawel Kalisinski
Cuttlefish are cephalopods that change color to feed on prey and avoid predators. They have three mechanisms that allow them to change color. First, the skin of the squid contains papillae that change the color of the fish. The papillae cause the skin to become smooth or rough, depending on the environment. Second, camouflage is possible by the chromatophores in their skin. The chromatophores are pockets of color pigments. To change color, these pouches receive color-changing instructions from the brain and act accordingly. Finally, squids have reflective plates called leucophores and iridophores. The plates allow the fish to change color.

3. Crab Spiders

crab spiders

Source: Erik Karits
Crab spiders are spiders that can change color, the common chameleon spider is such a spider. They usually change color to hide from their prey. As a result, the spiders change color to resemble the flower surface they sit on due to the reflection of the light. Some spiders release a yellow pigment that enhances their color-changing process. An example of a species of spider with such color-changing properties is Misumenoides formosipes and Misumena vatia. The color change from white to yellow takes 10 to 25 days. Thus, the flower spiders wait patiently for the process to be completed before they can attack their prey.

2. Squid

cephalopod

Source: James St. John | CC BY 2.0 Generic
Cuttlefish are marine cephalopods. They have two long tentacles and eight arms. An interesting fact about the squids is that their blood is blue. In addition, they have three hearts instead of one like other fish. The squids are uniquely beautiful and can change color. They change color using chromatophores engraved into their skin. The purpose of changing color is to modify the surface they sit on so they can avoid predators. The camouflage also acts as a hunting tactic as it allows them to hide from their prey.

1. Big Blue Octopus

Big blue octopus

Source: Diane Picchiottino
Known as the great blue octopus or the Octopus cyanea, the great blue octopus is found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific. It is known as the ‘day octopus’ as it is most active during the day unlike most other octopus species. Particularly adept at camouflage, the great blue octopus can often not only change the color of its skin, but also recreate patterns and textures. When hunting crabs, mollusks, shrimp and fish, the great blue octopus is able to quickly adapt its appearance to its environment and even mimic moving shadows such as clouds above ground.

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