Masters of Mimicry

Scarlet Kingsnake by Photographer LA DawsonMimicry is a defense mechanism used by many species in the animal kingdom.  There are different types of mimicry; one example would be that a non-poisonous animal might look extremely similar to a poisonous one.  This benefits the non-poisonous animal, because predators, such as hawks, will stay away, not knowing the different between the two.  Animals use camouflage as a defense mechanism as well; camouflage is different from mimicry in that the animal is mimicking an inanimate object.  A good example of this is this Oak Leaf and Lizard Necklace; lizards have similar colors and textures to leaves.           


King Cobra Sculpture from Wildlife WondersSnakes

Although some animals might mimic a snake, snakes sometimes mimic each other.  An excellent example is the king snake.  There are several different types of king snakes, but the scarlet king snake is a non-venomous snake that features red, black and yellow stripes.  It looks incredibly similar to the venomous coral snake which has the same colored stripes.  You might be familiar with the phrase, “Red touch black, friend of Jack; Red touch yellow, kill a fellow.”  This phrase is used to distinguish the king snake, which has stripes in a red-black-yellow-black pattern and the coral snake which has stripes in a black-yellow-red-yellow pattern.  Predators, however, don’t know that catchy rhyme and generally cannot tell the difference between the two colorful snakes.  Check out this Fimo Snake Sculpture for a unique interpretation of a colorful snake.  This coloring protects the king snake, because he has no venom to defend himself.  Snakes more commonly use camouflage, like the king cobra, shown in the King Cobra Bronze Sculpture pictured to the left which is available at Wildlife Wonders.  The king cobra is a venomous snake that uses it’s neutral coloring to blend in with their surroundings.  

Frog Porcelain Bowl from Wildlife WondersFrogs

Another excellent example of animal mimicry is found in frogs.  Many poisonous frogs, such as poison dart frogs, exhibit very bright, vibrant colors.  There are several species of non-poisonous frogs that mimic those bright colors and are sometimes hardly distinguishable from its poisonous counterpart.  Wildlife Wonders offers a Yellow Tree Frog Indoor Pillow that features an imitator of a poisonous frog.  This Rain Forest Little Dwellers Frog Vase, also available at Wildlife Wonders, features a cute, but poisonous red frog.  The beautiful coloring of the poison dart frog drives people to keep them as pets.  The frogs are able to secrete their poison because of the diet they eat.  So, although you can make a poison dart frog less poisonous, I highly suggest you get some fun frog home decor instead.  The Frog Porcelain Bowl from Franz Porcelain shown to the right would make a fantastic alternative.  

Mimic Octopus

One of the most fascinating animals that uses mimicry is aptly named the mimic octopus.  It will change its shape, behavior and color on a whim in order to scare off predators, such as sharks.  This octopus is truly a master of mimicry.  It will flatten itself out and swim low to the bottom like a deadly banded sole fish, then it will spread out its arms and swim high off the ground to imitate a deadly lionfish and it will back into a hole and leave two arms out to look like the extremely deadly sea snake.  These are just some of the many forms it can take.  Sometimes, scientists and divers can’t even figure out what it is mimicking.  It is known to mimic at least 15 different species.  The pictures below show pictures of the mimic octopus and the real animal that it is copying.

Mimic Octopus Comparisons


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One Response to Masters of Mimicry

  1. Geza says:

    Nice article, stylish blog layout, maintain the good work

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