by Elizabeth Trickey

Signs are everywhere throughout Ontario to watch out for, or beware of, certain animals in the area.  On walking trails there are reminders of what to do if a coyote is encountered.  Campers are warned about bears and snakes.  Deer crossing signs are seen on highways.  Drivers are prompted to watch out for turtles, geese, and frogs on the roads.

Although nobody wants to be in a potentially harmful situation with wildlife, we do want to see these animals, more so in their natural habitat, than a zoo.  It’s exciting to spot a bear, at least from the safety of a car!  But why don’t we see more critters?  One reason is because they have great camouflage!

I guess it’s no surprise why a Phasmid is referred to as a “stick-bug”.  It can be right in front of your nose, and you still may not see it!  These insects have long, skinny bodies, just like the stem of a leaf.  Some are brown while others are bright green, depending on the plant they are blending in with.  Their legs and antennae are positioned to look like the smaller stems. 

Stick-bug.  Photo by past Procyon volunteer

Toads and frogs blend in really well with their environments.  Toads are podgy, being brownish in colour, with rough, warty looking skin.  They live in areas that have dry, rocky soil, so it is often difficult to spot them since they look just like another rock or dead leaf on the ground.  Tree frogs, on the other hand, prefer wetter areas amongst fresh tree foliage, so their skin is a light grey or bright green.  Depending on the area this frog is in, it is able to change colour to avoid predators.  

Toad and tree frog.  Photos by past Procyon volunteer

There are all types of snakes in Ontario, and each species has interesting colouring.  It all depends on the habitat they live in.  Snakes have beautiful markings, some with intricate designs in a variety of colours.  Some live in grasses, so tend to sport yellow, green, and brown markings.  Water snakes are often dark in colour so they can sneak up on unsuspecting prey in murky depths.  The species that are in tones of grey like to bask in the sun on rocks, while snakes with brown splotches can be found, if you look hard enough, amongst dead foliage in the forest.

Dekay’s snake hiding between rocks in Tobermory.  Photo by past Procyon volunteer
Garter, or grass, snake.  Photo by Elizabeth Trickey

A white-tailed deer blends in very well with its surroundings, whether being in a forest or meadow.  In its first few months of life, a fawn is a reddish-brown in colour with white spots.  Mama doe hides it amongst foliage where it is well camouflaged.  As the fawn grows, it loses the spots, remaining brown to blend in with its habitat and the grasses that it eats.  Come autumn, when trees lose their leaves and the forest looks a bleak grey, a deer’s fur changes from brown to grey to match its environment.  Neat, eh?  No wonder they are difficult to see!

White-tailed deer camouflaged, Photo by Jennifer Howard

Procyon Wildlife rehabilitates many animals that fall prey to predators.  We care for reptiles and amphibians, as well as mammals such as deer, chipmunks, foxes, and raccoons.  If you ever find a wild animal in need of care, please contact us for help at 1-905-729-0033.

If you would like to help financially toward the care of wild animals in our care, please visit https://www.procyonwildlife.com/donations/general-donation-toward-care-of-an-animal/

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