Hidden Mammals

Rabbit blending in with the snowy background

Hiding is one way animals protect themselves from other animals, and they often are so good at it that we fail to see them even when they are close by.

While riding in a car, have you ever seen a rabbit run across the road, leap into the weeds growing along the side, and seem to disappear? Most of the time, if you look closely, you will see the rabbit sitting motionless only a few feet off the road. It is taking advantage of two survival techniques – camouflage and "freezing" in place.

The leopard's spots enable it to blend with its background.

The term camouflage (KAM-uh-flozh) is borrowed from the French word camoufler, which means "to disguise." In this instance, it describes the rabbit's natural coloration, which helps it match or blend with the colors of its normal surroundings. Movement attracts attention, but when you combine the rabbit's natural camouflage with its ability to sit motionless, you have an animal that is able to "disappear in plain sight."

Additional Information:

Ilo Hiller
1990 – Hidden Mammals: Introducing Mammals to Young Naturalists. The Louise Lindsey Merrick Texas Environment Series, No. 10, pp. 79. Texas A&M University Press, College Station.