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A Draco lizard showing camouflage, background matching, reduction of shadow, and hiding.
Bandipur National Park

Crypsis is a word in ecology which means "hiding". It refers to the ways animals avoid being seen, or otherwise detected. It also includes the situation when an animal is noticed, but is not recognised for what it is. It may be either a defence against predators, or a device for predators to get near prey.

Methods include camouflage, nocturnality (night-time activity), subterranean lifestyle, transparency, and mimicry.[1] The word can also be used about eggs,[2] and about pheromone production.[3] Crypsis can in principle involve visual, olfactory or auditory camouflage.[4]

  • Hiding is the simplest case of crypsis. The animal moves to a place where it cannot be seen.
  • Camouflage is the case where an animal can be seen by (for example) a predator, but not recognised.
  • Mimicry is the case when an animal can be seen, but seems like another animal or plant. Warning colouration is an example.


  1. Zuanon J. & I. Sazima 2006. The almost invisible league: crypsis and association between minute fishes and shrimps as a possible defence against visually hunting predators. Neotropical Ichthyology 4 (2): 219–214. doi:10.1590/S1679-62252006000100012 . 
  2. Nguyen L.P. et al 2007. Using digital photographs to evaluate the effectiveness of plover egg crypsis. Journal of Wildlife Management 71 (6): 2084–2089. doi:10.2193/2006-471 . 
  3. Raffa K.;R. et al 2007. Can chemical communication be cryptic? Adaptations by herbivores to natural enemies exploiting prey semiochemistry. Oecologia 153 (4): 1009–1019. doi:10.1007/s00442-007-0786-z . PMID 17618465 . 
  4. "Definition of Crypsis". Amateur Entomologists' Society. Retrieved August 19, 2012.