To play the camouflage game you will need very sharp eyes. First, you need to know what the word means.
Camouflage - hide by blending in with the natural surroundings. (Click on the word to hear how it's pronounced.)
Many animals are very good at camouflaging themselves in order to hide from their predators. Why? They don't want to get eaten!
Here in New Zealand, I've seen many animals that use color to camouflage themselves. They really blend in with their habitats so they're sometimes hard to find. Below are some photos of animals. Can you find the animal in each photo? (Hint: If you can't see the animal, try clicking on the picture to enlarge it and look again carefully.)
Can you find the animal in this photo? He blends in well on land and in the sea. His main predators are whales and sharks. He is really well camouflaged!
Here's a close-up picture. Can you see the New Zealand Fur Seal? When I visited the seaside town of Kaikoura I saw many seals sunbathing on the rocks. Some of them I didn't see at first because their grey color blended in with their surroundings. When I walked out on the rocks, I almost stepped on a sleeping seal!
Here's a little fella that also lives on land and sea. He's found in New Zealand and in Australia. His predators are also the whales and the sharks.
He's a Little Blue Penguin. Isn't he cute?! He doesn't need the freezing cold temperatures that other penguins need. His stomach is white, so when he's swimming on the surface of the water, a deep swimming shark looking up will see only the white of the sky above him. He won't even notice that part of the white is a little penguin!
Can you find the blue heron in this photo? He blends in so well with the water and branches that I didn't see him until he moved.
I saw what looked like a rock, or a clump of dirt on the path in my garden. Can you tell what it is?
On closer inspection, I realized it was a hedgehog. Can you see its nose and paw in this picture? To hide from its predators, it usually curls up in a little ball and blends in with the dirt and plants. It can also use its sharp spines to keep animals from trying to eat it.
The gecko in this picture is very hard to find when he stands still. He blends in well on the forest floor because he's the same color as the rocks, leaves, dirt, and tree bark. Camouflaging himself keeps him safe from being eaten by birds.
Another type of lizard that also lives in New Zealand is the tuatara. Look how he camouflages himself in the dirt. He is trying to hide from hungry rats or weasels.
This kea, is pretty easy to see standing on a fence, but imagine him amongst tree branches. His colors would help him camouflage himself.
The kea is a tricky bird that makes trouble. He is always looking for food. If a backpacker leaves her pack on the ground, a kea may come along and unzip it to help himself to food inside. In New Zealand, if you leave your car parked in an area where there are lots of keas, they will eat the rubber around your car windows to try to get in to find food.
I've also heard a story about a man who was being bothered repeatedly by a kea who kept coming back and trying to steal his lunch. The man threw his car keys at the bird to scare him away once and for all. The kea dodged the flying keys. Then picked them up in his beak and flew away with them!
Aren't animals amazing!?! Want to learn more about animals that camouflage themselves for protection? Click on Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, for some more good examples.
Here's a fun game my science students used to enjoy. You will need a partner. You both need paper, and crayons or markers. Title your papers "Camouflaged!" Without letting each other see your work, each of you draws a picture of an animal (real or pretend) that uses camouflage to hide from its predators. Now quickly draw its habitat all around him.
When you're both finished, take turns showing each other your pictures. Can you find the animal in ten seconds?!
If you find the animal, you get one point. If you can't, your partner gets one point.
For the next round, try drawing a different habitat with a new animal. The winner is the one with the most points when you have run out of time.
Tell me who won (first name only) by clicking comments below, and then typing the name in the box.