Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wild Fact: Warning Colors

Many small animals use camouflaging colors to blend in with their surroundings and hide from predators. However, other wildlife defend themselves by displaying bold colors, which in the animal world warns “Stay away! I’m toxic!” For example, young Eastern Newts (called Red Efts) secrete toxins from their skin. Red millipedes often release hydrogen cyanide liquid when disturbed. Birds that dine on the orange and black Monarch butterfly may become ill. These defense tactics don’t always mean certain death for predators, but the unpleasant experience makes them think twice before attempting to eat a bright-colored creature again.

WILD Facts is a regular feature written by Linda May, a wildlife interpretive specialist with the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division based at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, Georgia.

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