Why Do Lizards Camouflage Themselves?

Lizards camouflage themselves to hide from predators and prevent detection by prey. Many also employ additional defense mechanisms such as tail shedding. Lizards with this capability easily detach their tails from their bodies and quickly grow a replacement.

Camouflage and tail shedding are not the only defense mechanisms lizards use. Other common defenses include body inflation, hissing and surprising gestures intended to shock and frighten potential predators. A dramatic example is the shocking behavior of the frilled dragon, which rears up on two legs and puffs up its neck when threatened. The horned toad lizard displays another unusual surprise technique. When cornered, this lizard shoots blood out of its eye sockets.

Lizards are not the only animals that use defensive camouflage. Fish also use camouflage patterns to deceive predators and prey. For example, many fish have dark backs and light bellies that make them difficult to distinguish from surface light and the murky depths below. Fish in the stonefish family have a mottled appearance and rough, chunky silhouette that makes them virtually indistinguishable from the rocks in which they dwell. Stonefish also have venomous stingers in their dorsal fins and inject a poison powerful enough to kill adult humans. Adults that survive experience excruciating pain and often incur kidney damage.