Matching the color of the surrounding area is a good way to camouflage!
Camouflage is an important survival tool in the animal world. It helps animals hide from danger and get close to prey. So for those doing the hiding, it can make it harder for predators to find them. For those that hunt, it can help them sneak up close to their prey and improve their ability to survive.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of diversity in the animal kingdom when it comes to using camouflage. The type of camouflage needed depends on the type of animal, the prey that hunts them and the type of habitat they come from. This week we’re going to look at some of the clever ways animals stay hidden!
1. Color matching is one method of camouflage: This prevents the animal from standing out too much from the surrounding environment. Deers use this to blend into the trees around them. This makes it harder to see them when you’re just glancing out across the landscape. Check out the deer and other grazing animals as you drive through the park to see this in action!
2. Strips and other types of disruptive coloration: This is a way of visually breaking up their outline so that is harder to really know where the animal’s body starts and stops. Everything from insects to large mammals use this type of camouflage. This is why a tiger’s stripes make him hard to see!You can see this in person here at our park.
3. Mimicking and Mimesis: This is seen more in insects and reptiles. Mimicking refers to an animal that looks like something else. The Dead Leaf Butterfly looks like a dead leaf and that helps him stay hidden. Mimesis refers to an animal that looks like something their predators are not interested in, so that those that would hunt them are less likely to pay attention to them! Stick insects are a great example of this!
Here at the park you can challenge yourself to notice the different ways our animals have to camouflage themselves! Feel free to email or commen below on the different adaptations you’ve noticed!
Père David’s deer is named after a French missionary who was working in China and sent back several samples of the previously unknown deer in 1866. This species of deer is currently extinct in the wild but was indigenous to the subtropical areas of Asia.
Père David’s deer can grow up to 3.9 feet at the shoulder and stretch out to about 7 feet long. They can weigh up to 441 depending on gender, with the mail weighing more than the females. They have unique branched antlers which have tines what point back and times which point directly up. In China there is folklore and history surrounding this special deer, which was once owned by the emperor himself!
The Red-tailed boa is one species of constrictors originating from South and Central America. They are cold-blooded, non-poisonous and can live for 30 or more years in captivity. These particular boa tends to be fairly docile, especially those raised in captivity, and this makes them popular as pets.
Wonder what a red-tailed boa eats? They are carnivores and in the wild they eat rats, mice, eggs, other snakes and small mammals. In captivity they tend to eat only mice, rats and things like chicken. These cold-blooded snakes are nocturnal and prefer living in woodlands, semi-arid and tropical forests. They really need warm humid weather, preferring to bask in areas from 90 to 95 degrees with no cooler than 78 degrees at night.
The spotted hyena is an unusual animal which has intrigued humans throughout recorded history. Also known as a laughing hyena due to a laughing-like sound it makes, the hyena is indigenous to Africa. It plays a large part in many African cultures, such as in folklore, superstitions and medicine traditions.
The spotted hyena is a social animal which prefers to live in clans of up to 80. The males can weight up to 121 and the females can weigh up to 141. In certain areas the species tends to be heavier, which experts feel is due to food abundance and the types of food available. This species is spotted but there are related species which have different fur markings.
The Watusi, sometimes called the Ankole-Watusi, is a medium sized breed of cattle which is originally from Africa. The animals are easy to spot in a crowd due to their large, very distinctive horns. These horns can grow up to 8 feet from tip to tip and serve to both protect and help cool off the animal.
The Ankole-Watusi is an old breed of cattle, with pictures of similar cattle being found on Egyptian pyramid walls! The Watusi eats grass and leaves, preferring to graze on savannas and open grasslands. They can weigh up to 1,200 for females and 1,600 for males and are known to be have an easy going temperament.
The Caracal is a memorable animal with its distinctive and prominent ears. In fact, the name “caracal” comes from the Turkish word “Karakulak” which means black ear! These beautiful cats are also sometimes called an African or Desert Lynx, but they are not actually a part of the Lynx family.
The caracal lives in woodlands, savannas and semi-deserts. They hunt at night and are able to climb trees and even swim and catch fish. They are carnivores and will eat a variety of small prey, like small mammals, birds, lizards, fish and more. As you can see, they are versatile and adaptable animals!
Caracals are solitary but sometimes live in pairs. They have litters of young, up to 6 at a time. The young stay with the mom for up to 10 months before going off to live on their own. In the wild they can live to about 10 years but in captivity they may live up to 16 years. As beautiful as they are in pictures, you can always see one of these amazing cats by visiting our park and enjoy them in person!
What makes a regular old pig, like what is found on farms across America different from the Vietnamese potbelly? In reality there is very little difference in the standard farm pig and the Vietnamese potbelly, just a bit of selective breeding. Basically, they have been bred to have certain qualities, reducing their height and increasing their weight.
The statistics of this bred are impressive, with the average Vietnamese potbelly pig averaging between 100 to 200 pounds and standing between 16 to 20 inches tall. Native to Vietnam, these guys are have become popular as pets because they tend to be smart, easy to train and clean.
Like all pigs, they lack sweat glands and and need help to stay cool in hot weather. This is why they enjoy mud! Of course, they also enjoy eating and as you can imagine, given their size, obesity a problem for the breed. If you’d like to see what a Vietnamese potbelly pic looks like in person just come visit our park.
While their name isn’t very flattering, the Spiny Tailed Lizard are pretty cool lizards that live through most of North America, Northeast Africa,the Middle East. Some species even live further east, establishing themselves in hilly, rocky areas. Officially called Uromastyx, there are a variety of species within this family of hardy lizards.
As you can tell from their name, they have spiny tails. These spiked tails are muscular and are used as defense against attackers. They also hiss and display their teeth to ward off danger. They sleep underground in burrows, which can also provide them protection from predators and the environment.
Spiny Tailed Lizards range greatly in size, from 10 inches all the way up to 36 inches long, depending upon species. Like most reptiles, they like to bask in the sun and get most of their water through the vegetation they eat. Some people keep these lizards as pets, with the Mali Uromastyx being considered the ideal pet species.
Interesting, the coloration of this lizard changes. In colder weather, when they cannot bask in the sun as much, they get darker. In the summer when they can bask often, they tend to be lighter in color. If you want to see a Spiny Tailed Lizards for yourself you can stop by our park.
If you happened to be on the Arabian peninsula you might mistake a Black Buck Antelope for a Gazelle. That’s because these two species look similar in appearance and share the same natural habitat. Unfortunately, Black Buck Antelopes have been listed as a Near Threatened species since 2003.
One very distinctive feature of the Black Buck Antelope is their long, spiraled horns. Only males have these horns, which range from 18 to 27 inches long. Males also are larger, weighing up to 99 pounds and being up to 33 inches at the shoulder. The females range up to 86 pounds and are more slender than their male counterparts.
Black Buck Antelopes are grazers that prefer the plains and open woodlands. They eat grasses and sometimes forage for other things like low hanging flora on trees and bushes. They are very fast and can outrun any threats. Currently the loss of land is one of the largest problems facing this species. If you’d like to see theses striking animals you can always drop in for a visit.
Even if you don’t know the official name, you’ve likely seen the Belted Galloway grazing in fields across America. Known for their distinct black and white patter, this cow is sometimes called the Oreo cow since they are black with a distinct white ‘belt” in the middle. Those in the cattle industry also sometimes call them “Belties”.
While they are primarily considered a beef cow, they are also sometimes used for milk. While their originals aren’t 100% known, it is believed that they come from breeding efforts in the mid 1800′s with the Dutch Belted cattle. Quickly gathering popularity, by 1878 there were exclusive Galloway breeders.
Male Belted Galloways average about 1,800 pounds and females average about 1,250 pounds. They are very hardy and will graze on grasses that other cows will not. They are also known as being gentle in nature and very protective of their young. Feel free to stop by our park and see these gentle giants for yourself.