Tag Archives: Defensive Strategies

Better off than dead I’ll say.

Autotomy (from the Greek auto- “self-” and tome “severing”) or self amputation is the observed behaviour where an animal discards one or more of its own appendages.

This is usually done as a self-defense mechanism. The lost body part may be regenerated later. The best known example is most probably the gecko’s tail.

Under natural conditions, orb-weaving spiders undergo autotomy if they are stung in a leg by wasps or bees.


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Beware I am dangerous, I mean harmless.

A number of animals do not camouflage themselves, but copy the bright colours of a dangerous one, a strategy called Batesian mimicry.

This harmless milk snake for example looks much like the very dangerous coral snake.

There are a number of little rhymes to differentiate based on theĀ  colour bands, like this one:

Red follows black – friend of Jack

Red follows yellow – dangerous fellow.

Did I mention it only holds true for North American snakes? (Do check place of birth before getting too friendly.)

Paula with a Pueblan milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli).

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Black and White Stripes are Good for…

… deterring biting flies.

The purpose of the black and white stripes on zebra has been the subject of some speculation. One suggestion is that stripes make it difficult for predators to single out an individual zebra from the herd, but experimental evidence to support that and other ideas has been lacking.

Turns out bloodsucking horseflies and tsetse flies who do not only deliver nasty bites but also carry dangerous germs find zebra stripes less attractive than uniform colouration.

Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra).

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Take some Poison – For your protection of course!

Locusts / grasshoppers of the order Phymateus eat poisonous plants like the milkweed and store the poisons in their bodies to deter their predators.

There are a number of species and subspecies with a variety of colours. This image is of theĀ  common milkweed locust (Phymateus morbillosus).

Common Milkweed Locust (Phymateus morbillosus) at Witzenberg, Wolseley, South Africa.

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