You’ve seen the meme that invites viewers to decide which of 16 images is a Chihuahua, and which is a blueberry muffin. One computer scientist even made this into an AI challenge. But Chihuahuas aren’t the only critters that resemble inanimate objects. And some animals look so much like other, unrelated animals it’s astonishing — and adorable. Have a look through our gallery of sometimes strange, sometimes unintended, and always amusing animal disguises.
Cat or Caterpillar?
Check out this little guy. The caterpillar of the Mycalesis Perseoides butterfly has been called the “Hello Kitty” caterpillar because its head looks like a cat’s head. And it does! Mycalesis Perseoides, or the Burmese Bushbrown, lives in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand — which may explain why its facial markings remind us so much of those of a Siamese cat. See this adorable CATerpillar in action in the video below.
The Sea Bunny is a sea slug from the Nudibranch family. It looks like a fluffy bunny, with fuzzy fur, soft ears, and a cottontail. But all of the projections that look like hair, ears, and tail, are sensory organs. As the Sea Bunny makes its way through the water, these organs help the Sea Bunny to “smell” food and potential mates. Sea Bunnies are native to the Indo-Pacific Ocean and have been found from South Africa to the central Pacific.
These little guys are less than an inch long. Also, they come in several different colors. You wouldn’t want to pet these bunnies, though. They feed on some of the most venomous creatures on Earth, including the Portuguese Man o’ War. And this makes them toxic as well.
The Caterpillar of the Flannel Moth
Many people think that the caterpillar of the Flannel Moth looks like a toupee with a life of its own. In fact, as with many hairy or fuzzy caterpillars, if you touch this one, there will be Hell Toupee. The hairs are poisonous spines. If you accidentally brush up against them, the sting is incredibly painful, and the resultant irritation can last for as many as six days. Some people might also experience nausea, headaches, and shock-like symptoms. In fact, the CDC has issued warnings about this caterpillar and its relatives, one of which is called, ominously, the “tree asp.”
The rock hyrax looks like a buffed-out guinea pig, but it’s related to elephants and manatees. See those tiny tusks? They’re not just for decoration. On top of that, rock hyraxes have multi-chambered stomachs like a cow, and they sing like a bird. It is no surprise that the Bible calls out these indefinable creatures several times, declaring them as unkosher as a cockroach. It’s hard to tell what they are, exactly. They are cute, though. The rock hyrax grows to a length of 20 inches and weighs in at around 9 pounds. They live in rocky areas of Africa and the Middle East.
What would a lizard look like if it had no legs? You guessed it. The name refers to a group of lizards that, over time, have evolved to have no legs. How can you tell them apart from their serpentine look-a-likes? Well, unlike snakes, legless lizards have eyelids and external ear openings. Also, they lack broad scales on their bellies, and their tongues are notched, rather than forked. But we imagine most people won’t get close enough to check. There are hundreds of types of legless lizards, and they live all around the world.
This is a dog? Really? It looks just like a raccoon! But surprise! The raccoon dog is a primitive member of the dog family. Even though it looks like a raccoon, there is no close relation at all. If that’s not enough, the raccoon dog climbs trees, like a fox. Its These omnivores live in Japan. They grow to about 28 inches in length and can weigh between 14 and 22 pounds.
Bird Dropping Spider
Yes, you read that right. This spider from Australia (where else?) has evolved to look like something everyone wants to avoid. Celaenia excavata is not exactly adorable, but it’s very clever. It’s egg sacs look like number two, too. Not only that, but its defensive tactic is just sitting there looking like poo. And if that’s not enough, we’ve read that they also emit a smell that reflects their name.
A Moth in Spider’s Clothing
The Metalmark Moth disguises itself as a spider to avoid being eaten by spiders. The moth mimics the movements of predatory jumping spiders. It holds up its forewings, which have spots that look like eyes. Then it twists its striped hindwings so that they resemble spider legs. It also twitches and jumps like a spider.
How well does it work? Well, not only do spiders not eat these clever creatures, but they treat them to elaborate courtship rituals instead!
The Metalmark Moth lives in southeast Asia.
There are some amazing creatures out there, with some unbelievable disguises. Have you seen any in your area? Tell us about them in the comments!