9 Ingenious Ways That Animals Fool Each Other Every Day

Insects hiding as flowers, caterpillars transforming into snakes—would you be fooled by these animals?



1. This caterpillar fools predators with its uncanny snake imitation

It may be hard to believe, but this "snake" isn't actually a snake at all. When faced with a potential threat, the hawk moth caterpillar takes the form of a pit viper. Get a closer look at its remarkable imitation skills in this video.

2. See a chameleon dance the two-step to look like a leaf

Chameleons will always reign supreme as nature's masters of disguise. In this video, watch these charismatic creatures shoot their tongues out like arrows to catch an insect, mimic leaves swaying in the wind, and display their hidden colors.

3. These bad moms trick other birds into raising their giant, murderous babies

Worst prank ever? Rather than building their own nests, these sneaky birds lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and fly off. In this video from Today I Learned, National Geographic explorer Luke Powell explains why brood parasites are terrible bird parents and how their imposter babies grow up to be nightmares.

4. Insect or flower? You decide.

Don't let this beautiful bug fool you—it's a killer. Presenting itself like a delicate flower, the orchid mantis uses its elegant disguise to lure unsuspecting prey to its demise. Even though it's not actually an orchid, there is no denying this deceptive mantis is a lovely sight to behold.

5. Cuttlefish are basically the shape-shifters of the ocean

Whether it's squid, hermit crab, algae, or rocks—cuttlefish have an incredible ability to mimic other animals and their surroundings. To better understand how they accomplish these transformations, scientists are taking a closer look at the muscles, nerves, and chemical interactions of these unique cephalopods. Watch this video to learn more about cuttlefish camouflage and mimicry in the wild.

6. Cookiecutter sharks sound adorable, but are actually terrifying

Watch cookies tell the story of the cookiecutter shark in this sugary explainer video. Deep in the ocean, this unique parasitic predator lures its prey by using its glowing, bioluminescent photophores to mimic smaller fish. When the prey gets close enough, the cookiecutter shark suctions its lips onto the flesh of its victim, spins, and then ejects a cylindrical plug, or "cookie," of its flesh. These characteristic wounds have been found on many different marine mammals and fish, like dolphins, whales, marlin, and tuna, in addition to a few humans.

7. This bug stays incognito with a very simple (but effective) camouflage

Stick bugs have one of the most natural camouflages on earth, resembling the twigs amongst which they live. Because they are nocturnal, their eyes are adapted to see detail in dark conditions and they also can shed limbs to escape predators.

8. It's almost impossible to distinguish between this fish and sea grass

Robust ghost pipefish—or floating sea grass? These fish know how to hide in plain sight.

9. This venomous snake has a very sneaky method for luring its prey

In the Namib Desert, a Peringuey's adder plays a deadly game of hide-and-seek with an unsuspecting lizard. The snake's coloring allows it to blend almost imperceptibly into the desert sand, and it uses its tail to mimic an insect's movement, catching the attention of a nearby lizard. Watch to see the moment when the snake strikes its target—the lizard never even sees it coming.