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24 Animals that use Mimicry (A to Z List & Pictures)

animals that use mimicry

Examples of animals that use mimicry for survival & hunting include anglerfish, caterpillars, gopher snakes, king snakes, and mantis.

Animals have always relied on their instincts to survive, but some animals use mimicry for hunting or survival.

The word “mimicry” is defined as the act of copying what another person says, does, wears, etc., in order to deceive someone. Animals that use mimicry are masters of deception and get away with almost anything.

Examples of Animals that use Mimicry for Survival & Hunting

1. Alligator Snapping Turtles

alligator snapping turtle
Scientific NameMacrochelys temminckii
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeFlorida to eastern Texas
DietOmnivore

Alligator snapping turtles are some of the largest freshwater turtles in North America. They can weigh up to 175 pounds and grow to be almost three feet long.

These turtles have a unique way of hunting prey; they use their tongues to lure fish or other small animals close to their mouths, then snap them up with their powerful jaws.

Alligator snapping turtles can also camouflage themselves by closing their eyes and folding their heads into their shells.

2. Anglerfish

Scientific NameLophiiformes
Type of AnimalFish
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

The anglerfish is a deep-sea fish that has one of the most unique hunting strategies in the animal kingdom. This fish uses a fishing pole-like appendage on its head to lure prey towards it.

The anglerfish’s “fishing pole” is tipped with a luminous bulb that attracts small fish and shrimp. Once the prey is close enough, the anglerfish will quickly snatch it up in its powerful jaws.

3. Chameleons

chameleon
Scientific NameChamaeleonidae
Type of AnimalLizard
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Chameleons are one of the most recognizable animals that rely on mimicry for survival. The reason why they are so successful at it is that they can change their colors to match their surroundings, which makes them extremely hard to spot.

4. Caterpillar

Caterpillar
Scientific NameLarva
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

The mimicry of the caterpillar is one of nature’s best-kept secrets. The various colored markings on a caterpillar can indicate whether or not it will be poisonous to predators when they attempt to eat them.

For example, some species have black and yellow stripes which give off warning signs that their bodies are containing toxins.

There are over 100,000 types of caterpillars in the world and over 20,000 species that use mimicry to survive.

5. Death’s-Head Hawkmoth

Hawkmoth
Scientific NameAcherontia
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeAfrica, Asia and parts of Europe
DietHerbivore

The Death’s-Head Hawkmoth is a large moth that can be found in Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. This moth gets its name from the skull-like pattern on its thorax.

This moth has a cent that resembles a honey bee, allowing it to enter a beehive and steal the honey without being stung or killed for thievery.

The Death’s-Head Hawkmoth is one of the most well-known mimics in the animal kingdom.

6. Fork-Tailed Drongo

Fork-Tailed Drongo
Scientific NameDicrurus adsimilis
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAfrica
DietOmnivore

One clever African bird called the forked-tailed drongo has evolved the ability to mimic the calls of other species, including other types of birds and meerkats.

When the drongo spots a coveted tasty morsel in the paws or claws of another creature, it simply mimics the warning call of that animal.

The unsuspecting victim then drops its prey and flees, allowing the drongo to snatch up the meal for itself.

7. Foureye Butterflyfish

Scientific NameChaetodon capistratus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeWestern Atlantic from Massachusetts
DietOmnivore

The tail of the foureye butterflyfish has huge eyespots. The fish’s false eyes deceive predators into believing it will flee tail first, when in fact it will swim away in the opposite direction.

8. Gopher Snake

Gopher Snake
Scientific NamePituophis catenifer
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeNorth America
DietCarnivore

Gopher snakes will assume the defensive posture of rattlesnakes when scared, flattening their heads and shaking their tails.

This scares off predators and allows them to escape because it can be difficult for a predator to tell the difference between a rattlesnake lying in wait and one that is trying to frighten you away.

9. Harlequin Frog

Scientific NameAtelopus varius
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeCosta Rica to Bolivia
DietCarnivore

The harlequin frog is a brightly colored amphibian found in Central and South America. This little guy relies on mimicry to avoid being eaten by predators.

The harlequin frog can imitate the color and patterns of several poisonous species of frogs, which makes it difficult for predators to determine if the frog is poisonous or not.

10. Katydids

Katydids
Scientific NameTettigoniidae
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeThe tropical regions of the world
DietHerbivore

The female cicada responds to the male cicada mating call with mimicry, luring unsuspecting males into becoming food.

Katydids also resemble brilliant green tree leaves to avoid being preyed upon by other animals.

11. King Snakes

kingsnake
Scientific NameLampropeltis
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeCanada to Ecuador
DietCarnivore

King Snakes are known for mimicking venomous Coral Snakes. If you see a King Snake that is black with red, yellow, or white bands then you’ve just seen the deadly Coral Snake.

The King Snake will often coil up and flatten its head to make itself look more like the Coral Snake.

By doing this, the King Snake can avoid being eaten by predators or prey that know to stay away from the venomous Coral Snake

12. Ladybird

Ladybird
Scientific NameCoccinellidae
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

The ladybird beetle is probably one of the most well-known and widespread insects that use mimicry for survival.

Ladybirds are small, round, and brightly colored with black spots on their red or orange shells. They are often mistaken for poisonous beetles and this has helped them to survive because predators will usually leave them alone.

The bright colors of the ladybird beetle also warn predators that they are poisonous

13. Leafy Sea Dragon

leafy sea dragon
Scientific NamePhycodurus eques
Type of AnimalFish
RangeAustralia
DietCarnivore

The leafy sea dragon is a fish that lives in the ocean and looks like a seaweed plant. This animal has adapted to look like its surroundings so predators won’t eat it.

The leafy sea dragon also uses mimicry to confuse prey into thinking it’s not a fish. By doing this, the leafy sea dragon can get closer to its prey without being noticed.

14. Mantis

Mantis
Scientific NameMantodea
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

The praying mantis is a master of disguise! This particular insect can camouflage itself to look like a leaf or branch.

The praying mantis will even hold its arms out to the side in order to look more like a leaf. Not only does the mantis use mimicry for hunting, but it also uses it for self-defense.

When a predator is getting too close for comfort, the mantis will oftentimes pretend to be dead by lying still on the ground.

15. Milk Snakes

A red and black striped Kingsnake
Scientific NameLampropeltis triangulum
Type of AnimalReptile
RangeCanada, and south into Mexico and Central America
DietCarnivore

The Milk Snake is one of many snakes that use mimicry for survival. The milk snake’s main predator, the rat snake, has a pattern on its back that closely resembles another poisonous reptile known as the coral snake.

When threatened by other animals or humans, this harmless little guy will coil up and try to look like it could pose a danger.

Unfortunately for the milk snake, most people know what to look for and can easily distinguish it from a coral snake.

16. Mimic Octopus

Scientific NameThaumoctopus mimicus
Type of AnimalCephalopods
RangeIndonesia
DietCarnivore

The mimic octopus is a small cephalopod that lives in the tropical waters of Indonesia. This octopus gets its name from its ability to imitate other creatures.

It can mimic more than 15 different species of sea animals, including lionfish, anemones, and sea snakes! The mimic octopus uses its amazing skills to avoid predators and catch prey.

17. Moths

moth
Scientific NameLepidoptera
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

Moths can resemble a wide range of other creatures and plants, including owls, frogs, wasps, curled-up dead leaves, jumping spiders, mantis, cicada, and many more species. Some moths even have markings on their wings that mimic the eyes of predators.

By resembling other creatures or objects, moths can avoid being eaten by birds and other animals.

18. Northern Pygmy Owl

Northern Pygmy Owl
Scientific NameGlaucidium californicum
Type of AnimalBird
Rangewestern North America
DietCarnivore

Has false eyes at the back of its head to trick prey into believing it’s being watched or giving it an illusion that it’s much bigger than it really is.

19. Robber Fly

robber fly
Scientific NameAsilidae
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

This extremely small fly is only about the size of a sesame seed, but it preys on large insects like bees. The Robber Fly uses mimicry to trick its prey into thinking that they’re harmless bees.

By copying the color patterns and behavior of certain wasps or bees they can usually get close enough to their unsuspecting victims to pounce.

20. Sea Slug

Sea Slug
Scientific NameGlaucus atlanticus
Type of AnimalGastropod mollusks
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

The sea slug glaucus atlanticus has earned the nickname “the blue dragon” because it looks like an ocean-dwelling reptile.

This sea slug can change its color and shape to match the colors of prey like jellyfish. It uses this mimicry to blend in while sneaking up on a meal.

21. Spider-Tailed Horned Viper

horn viper
Scientific NamePseudocerastes urarachnoides
Type of AnimalReptile
Rangewestern Iran
DietCarnivore

The spider-tailed horned viper is a snake found in the Middle East. This snake has a tail that looks exactly like a spider. When it wiggles its “tail”, birds come to attack, thinking it’s an actual spider.

The spider-tailed horned viper uses this mimicry for hunting and survival. If it were to be seen by a predator, it would be easy prey. But by using its tail to look like a spider, the snake can avoid being eaten.

22. Stick Bug

Stick Bug
Scientific NamePhasmatodea
Type of AnimalInsect
Range The tropics and subtropics
DietHerbivore

The stick bug is a master of mimicry. It disguises itself as a broken twig to fool predators into thinking it is dead and not worth their time.

The bug holds its legs in the air so that it looks like a dry branch coming out of the ground, yet also has leaves on its back to complete the camouflage.

When threatened, the stick bug will also make a clicking noise with its mouth to further deter predators.

23. Viceroy Butterflies

viceroy butterfly
Scientific NameLimenitis archippus
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivore

Viceroy Butterflies are a great example of an animal that uses mimicry for survival. These butterflies look very similar to the Monarch Butterfly, but they are much smaller.

The Viceroy Butterfly is not poisonous, so it relies on its disguise to avoid being eaten by predators.

24. Zone-Tailed Hawk

Zone-Tailed Hawk
Scientific NameButeo albonotatus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeSouthern Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas
DietCarnivore

One of the most common animals that use mimicry for hunting is the zone-tailed hawk.

The zone-tailed hawk mimics turkey vultures to catch prey. Vultures are rarely dangerous to healthy animals, as they feed on dead or weak animals.

This hawk is native to North America and can be found in Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America.

The zone-tailed hawk is a predatory bird that feeds on small mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, and prairie dogs.

This bird is known to mimic the wing movement of other birds so that it can fly much lower than normally tolerated by most birds.

This allows the zone-tailed hawk to hunt many animals that would usually be protected by their size, including rabbits, squirrels, and prairie dogs.

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