There are many ways that animals in nature have found to defend themselves. Some shoot out quills when threatened; others can have poisonous skin, which kills predators when attacked. However, the animals on this list have found a different approach to surviving in nature.
These sneaky critters use the art of stealth and camouflage to remain hidden from prey and predators alike. Whether these creatures use their adaptations for hunting or hiding, you better look closely, or you might miss them.
4. The Leaf-Litter Toad
The Leaf-Litter Toad bounces in at number four on our list of animals that use camouflage to navigate their environment.
The Toad is the smallest on our list, with a length of just three inches when fully grown. They make their homes in tropical forests and wetlands usually associated with the Amazonian jungles and surrounding areas in South America.
These Toads have adapted a style of camouflage that lets them lay at the bottom of the rainforest where dead leaves are abundant. Some animals on this list use sneaky ways to hunt; the Leaf-Litter uses it solely to hide from predators.
The amphibian has developed sharp body features, including snout and eye ridges. This helps to produce the same look as the leaves around them. They have even gone so far as to replicate the midrib of a leaf with a vein-like coloration running along the back of its body.
The uncanny ability to look like a non-threatening dead leaf is why these animals are still alive and the reason they are number four on the list.
3. Eastern Screech Owl
The Eastern Screech Owl flies in at number three because of its ability to use its camouflage as both a defense and a predatory mechanism, helping it defend and hunt out in the wild.
The owl's natural habitat is Eastern North America, Florida, holding a large portion of the population. They have a two-foot wingspan; with that large of a wingspan, how could they ever be part of our sneaky animal's club?
This bird has developed multiple forms of camouflage and numerous ways to use it. First, to protect their young, they will find a tree cavity and block the entrance with their head, like a wine cork. This action, along with their coloration, which has even been used for human camouflage in the outdoorsman community, renders the flyer virtually undetectable.
The Owl will also use this technique to hunt as well, with only its head protruding it is insanely difficult for prey to see the bird until it is too late.
The actions taken by the Eastern Screech Owl, combined with its adaption to blend into forests, is why it is number three on our list.
2. Stone Fish
The Stone Fish swims in at number two as one of the best to ever don the veil of disguise.
The Stone Fish is a medium-sized fish, one to two feet long, weighing three to five pounds. Besides its knack for hiding in plain sight, it has some other incredible features. The ocean-dwelling creature holds the title of the world's most venomous fish. They have also been known to survive for up to 24 hours outside of the water!
But this list isn’t about poison or survivability; it's about being sneaky, and the Stone Fish has developed some incredible attributes to put it on this list.
The fish has a color scheme similar to the coral in its habitat, usually a pinkish brown. It has even gone so far as to produce “growths” along its body to resemble coral even further, much like a military ghillie suit. This lets the animal lay at the bottom of the ocean, looking like an unsuspecting piece of broken debris.
As an ode to its name, when prey swims by this unsuspecting stone, is when it strikes with its barbs of venom, sealing the fate of their next meal from their in-plain-sight hiding spot. They can do so using their evolutionary development of an upwards-facing mouth.
Its inherent skill to act and look like a sunken stone is why this fish is number two on our list of sneaky creatures.
1. Parson’s Chameleon
At the top of our list is none other than the sneakiest lizard of all time, the Parson’s Chameleon. This cold-blooded arbor-dwelling assassin has due cause to be at the top as it has developed and perfected its color-changing camouflage.
The Parson’s Chameleon is the largest of the chameleon family, measuring two feet in length and weighing one to three pounds. They have a tongue that is double the size of the lizard and is used to capture prey in the form of insects. It does so at its leisure because of its uncanny ability to blend into its environment.
How does the Chameleon use its infamous skill to change its body to whatever color it so chooses, you ask?
It's all in the skin pigments. The lizard has evolved its skin to hold pigments called melanin. Melanin regulates how much light is reflected off the skin. This manifests in the form of a large variety of colors. This gives the Parson’s Chameleon the ability to render itself largely invisible to the naked eye and much of the animal world.
While the animal does use this for survival, the colors can be affected by the mood, temperature, and other outside forces on the creature. Still, for all intents and purposes, this adaptation is used for two things, to kill and not be killed.
Its name is synonymous with blending in, and its adaptations let it change into any color it wants. These two reasons alone are why the Parson’s Chameleon is number one on our list.