Seven Amazing Color-changing and Shape-shifting Animals

They are the Masters of Disguises — animals that have impressive abilities to alter their appearance to blend with the colors, materials and textures of virtually any surroundings. To some it is their way to elude predators and to others simple camouflage to lure prey. Read on to learn more about the seven amazing color-changing and shape-shifting animals.


Flounders are ocean-dwelling flatfish species found across the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, with some species even inhabiting the arctic waters. They prefer living in shallow waters, coastal lagoons and reefs. These bottom-feeding flat fish are generally brown in color, but can change color, including red, blue, green and orange whenever the need arises. With two eyes situated on one side of its head (left or right depending on the species), adult flounders move to the bottom of the oceans.

The eye position enables grown ups to swim along parallel to the ground below them and still look up and forward. These protruding eyes further aid their stealth as they watch for predators or prey. Some species of flounder are known to further camouflage their bodies from predators by digging themselves into their surroundings using a kind of fluttering motion that throws up a cloud of mud over its body. Predators find them hard to see.

Mimic Octopus

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More than mere color-changers (turning black and yellow), the Mimic Octopus (Thaumoctopus mimicus), is also shape-shifters that is capable of mimicking other oceanic creatures such as brittle stars, flatfish, flounders, giant crabs, jellyfish, lionfish, sea anemones, sea snakes, sea shells, and stingrays.

Discovered in 1998, mimic octopi live in the tropical seas of South East Asia. This amazing octopus species determines which animal to impersonate depending on local predators.


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Chameleons are the classic master of disguise and color-changers. These amazing lizards have the ability to change colors in order to adapt be into their environmental surroundings. These color changes can include colors such as black, blue, brown, green, light blue, orange, pink, red, blue, red, orange, turquoise, yellow, and combinations thereof. This serves as a mechanism of communication, as well as a defense against predators.

These tree-living lizards also have eyes that can rotate in different directions, a curly tail, and tongue twice the length of its body. Chameleons are found in Africa, Asia, Spain and Portugal, and have also been introduced to parts of North America. Sizes vary from just an inch to more than a couple of feet in size.

Goldenrod Crab Spider

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The Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia), has only two colors to change into “at will”. – white and yellow – depending on the flower in which it is hunting. but fortunately for this species, it hunts mainly on flowers of those colors: daisies and sunflowers most notably. This spider is able to change its color by secreting a liquid yellow pigment. This color change both helps it creep up on flower-sitting prey and also as a camouflage to avoid possible predators. The color change from white to yellow takes between 10 and 25 days, the reverse about six days.

Peron’s Tree Frog

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The Peron’s Tree Frog (Litoria peronii) also known as the Laughing Tree Frog and Maniacal Cackle Frog, are widespread in Australia, inhabiting forests, woodlands, and open areas. They are known for their amazing ability to change color in seconds depending on temperature, light exposure and moisture. It can change color between gray, dark brown and white. It has yellow and black legs and emerald spots. Peron’s tree frogs are generally insectivores. Males measures between 44-53 mm; females 46-65 mm.

Golden Tortoise Beetle

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The Golden tortoise beetles (Charidotella sexpunctata) is one of the most striking and beautiful insects. One remarkable feature of this remarkable creature is its ability to change color from a metallic gold color to a dull red with ladybug-like spots. It is able to achieve this change within a short time period, by altering the reflectivity of their outer shell. Seemingly, it is able to “voluntarily” squeeze this layer, reducing its thickness and do away with the gold color. Tortoise beetles are plant eaters and primarily feed on morning glory.


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Cuttlefish sometimes called as the chameleon of the sea are marine mollusks found along the coasts of Australia, Africa, the Mediterranean, western Europe, and the coasts of east and south Asia. They generally range in size from 15 cm to 25 cm and weigh over 10.5 kg. They have amazing ability to camouflage themselves in a range of environments, swiftly alter their skin color at will. It can change color from yellow to red-orange and blue-green. They use their camouflage to evade predators and to hunt and sneak up on their prey.

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