Stripes are a very common pattern in nature, with many animals using them to either hide from predators or hide when stalking prey. By breaking the natural contour of the body, animals can sometimes hide with minimal foliage cover.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how this exactly works and list down all animals with stripes!
- Striped Hyenas
- Grandidier’s Mongooses
- Baby Tapirs
- (Some) Squirrels and Chipmunks
- Striped Skunks
- Striped Marlins
- Emperor Angelfish
- Ring-railed Lemurs
- Common Coral Snakes
- Five-lined Skink
- Garter Snake
Scientific name: Panthera tigris
The largest cat species in the world, tigers need to move very carefully to avoid being detected when stalking prey. That’s when stripes come into play. Tigers are known as orange animals with black stripes, with each tiger developing a unique pattern.
When tigers hide in tall grass, the play of light and shade helps the tiger blend in with its stripes. White tigers, often called ‘snow tigers’, have black stripes on a white base (just like zebras), which are used to help them hide in the wild.
However, since these tigers only live in captivity nowadays, there are no current examples of them using their stripes to blend in with the environment. There are also almost stripeless white tigers, but they’re extremely rare.
Scientific name: Hippotigris
Zebras are probably the most well-known animals with black and white stripes, and they’re a perfect comparison to tigers regarding the difference between predator and prey (although zebras and tigers don’t share the same habitat in real life).
Zebras are white animals with complex black stripes – horizontal on the legs, vertical on the neck, chest, belly, and back. Interestingly, there’s no definitive answer to the question ‘why do zebras have stripes?’.
Two theories have some documented proof. Firstly, stripes can actually confuse predators in the wild, especially when zebras are huddled together in a herd. When they see a predator and start running, the mixing of striped objects can confuse an animal.
Secondly, there’s some proof to the theory that stripes deter flies, and zebras live in a fly-infested area. The theory that zebras developed stripes to hide from predators has been disproven.
They’re loud, social animals, often attracting predators without even being seen. When threatened, zebras put no effort into trying to blend in and they just start running like crazy.
Lastly, the natural environment of zebras has nothing black-and-white where zebras could blend in. With that color pattern, they stand out like a sore thumb.
Scientific name: Okapia johnstoni
These African animals with stripes have very little striping, only on their fore and hind legs. Unlike zebras, okapis live in dense vegetation, similar to the tiger’s natural habitat.
Their striping helps them break natural body contours and provides some camouflage.
The rest of the okapi’s body is normally brown, almost black, and they can easily blend in.
Unfortunately for them, their primary threat in the wild is the leopard (if we don’t count poachers). Leopards are dotted animals that can also hide very well while stalking prey.
4. Striped Hyenas
Scientific name: Hyaena hyaena
Found in North and East Africa, these big cats with stripes can actually use their stripes to blend in, unlike zebras. Hyenas are already beige or brown, which is a dominant color in Africa. The black stripes on their body help them blend in with the dusty environment.
They have black stripes on their legs, belly, and their sides, while the top of their body is covered with a mane. Hyenas are very short for a predator, and in combination with their stripes, they can stay low to the ground, almost undetected.
Scientific name: Tragelaphus eurycerus
Bongos are antelopes with stripes that are quite unbelievable – they’re primarily brown, and the stripes are white and very thin. They look like someone drew precise, white lines vertically across the body.
There are between ten to fifteen stripes on an adult bongo, and they’re helpful with camouflage since they live in grassy areas.
Scientific name (genus): Tragelaphus
Greater kudu and lesser kudu are two animals with stripes and horns and the only two species of this genus. They’re both striped similarly to the bongo. Their stripes are long, thin, and white, while their base color is pale brown.
Unlike zebras, which stand out, kudus can blend in much more easily because of the coloring similar to their natural habitat.
7. Grandidider’s Mongooses
Scientific name: Galidictis grandidieri
Named after the French naturalist, these mongooses are also known as striped mongooses. Found on the island of Madagascar, they have eight dark stripes on their pale brown body.
They’re mostly nocturnal animals, and their stripes allow them to hide when they scour the floor for food. Since they’re an endangered species and they live in a very small area, they’re still very unexplored.
Scientific name: Proteles cristata
Aardwolves aren’t actually wolves, as they belong to the Feliformia family of cat-like carnivores. Wolves with stripes don’t actually exist, and these animals are very similar to striped hyenas, but they’re much smaller and they don’t weigh more than 30 pounds.
They’re mostly grey and light brown with a lot of black vertical stripes, the pattern of which is more similar to that of a tiger than a striped hyena. They also have a mane dropping down their neck.
9. Baby Tapirs
Scientific name (family): Tapiridae
Adult tapirs can weigh up to 700 pounds and they can easily repel most predators, except for very large cats. Baby tapirs, however, aren’t as large and they have stripes and spots that help with camouflage.
These animals with stripes or spots grow them out as adults, but as babies, they have spots on their legs and horizontal stripes along their bodies. This is a bit odd in comparison to every other species mentioned so far, as they usually have vertical stripes on their body.
10. (Some) Squirrels and Chipmunks
Scientific name (family): Sciuridae
Chipmunks belong to the squirrel family, and plenty of squirrels and chipmunks have stripes that help them blend in with the forest environment.
An example of that is the Siberian chipmunk (there are so many species with stripes in this family, it would take an entirely different list to mention them all).
These small animals with stripes have four white and five dark stripes along the back, breaking their natural body shape in the wild. Since squirrels spend most of their time near trees, they mostly combine brown, white, grey, and black colors.
11. Striped Skunks
Scientific name: Mephitis mephitis
One of the most easily recognizable animals with stripes in North America, skunks have a characteristic color pattern. They have a black base with a white stripe dividing at the shoulders.
The skunk is a ferocious fighter, so it has very few natural predators. However, their fur was very sought after, not only because of its thickness but because of its interesting pattern too.
12. Striped Marlins
Scientific name: Kajikia audax
This 9-foot-long fish with stripes is often found in the Indo-Pacific oceans. They can develop up to 20 blue stripes on each side of their body, and the stripes stay even after the fish dies.
Striped marlins are usually black or dark blue, while their bottom is silver. The blue lines on their body break their image underwater and make them harder to spot. Since they’re predators, this comes in handy when hunting.
13. Emperor Angelfish
Scientific name: Pomacanthus imperator
This small fish with stripes usually inhabits reefs and it can be found in the Indian Ocean, as well as the Pacific, in Hawaii, Austral Islands, and the Red Sea. Juveniles don’t have well-developed yellow and blue lines, but curved markings.
Adults, on the other hand, are easily recognizable because of their blue and yellow horizontal striping, making them stand out. Because of the way they draw attention, they’re very common in aquariums.
14. Ring-tailed Lemurs
Scientific name: Lemur catta
As the name suggests, ring-tailed lemurs have a ring pattern on their tail. These animals with stripes on their tails have alternating black and white rings, with up to 14 rings on a single tail. Interestingly, they always end on a black tip.
They don’t use their tails for camouflaging, and those patterns wouldn’t be any good anyway, since the black and white pattern isn’t that common in nature. Instead, they keep their tails up when they’re foraging to keep the group together.
Scientific name (clade): Anthophila
With over 16,000 species of bees in the world, it’s impossible to pick out the ones that are striped. Just to mention a few, the western honey bee, the bumblebee, and the yellowjacket (which is actually a wasp) are all striped with yellow and black.
The jury is still out on the question of ‘why do bees have stripes’ – it was thought that the stripes were a defense mechanism. Once an animal is stung by a bee, it will remember the distinct color pattern and it won’t disturb bees anymore to avoid being harmed.
However, that was recently proven to be untrue, and the exact reason behind the alternating black and yellow pattern is unknown.
16. Common Coral Snakes
Scientific name: Micrurus fulvius
There’s an entire family of coral snakes called Elapidae, and they all look very similar. Common coral snakes, though, are endemic to southeastern United Snakes and they show a distinct pattern of dark red, yellow, and black stripes.
The red and black stripes (or rings) are always separated by yellow rings. This pattern never breaks, and it’s incredible that such a strict rule exists in nature.
The venom of these snakes with stripes is actually very dangerous, but they’re very secretive animals and they often bite without delivering venom when provoked, with very few fatalities documented.
Remember the red-yellow-black pattern, as it’s important for our next entry.
Scientific name (genus): Lampropeltis
There are 45 species of kingsnakes, and they’re often mistaken for coral snakes. However, they’re not venomous and they’re actually very useful when it comes to keeping rats and other vermin away.
Why are they often confused for coral snakes? Because they have very similar vibrant patterns. These snakes with red and black stripes have a different pattern, though – as it’s red-black-yellow.
Because of this, many Americans use a mnemonic device to remember the difference between the two, seemingly identical species – red on yellow kill a fellow, red on black venom lack.
If red and yellow are touching, the snake is venomous, if red and black are touching, the snake is harmless.
This only applies to coral snakes in the US, as coral snakes in other parts of the world often have different patterns with black stripes touching red stripes.
Scientific name (subfamily): Amphiprioninae
This orange fish with white stripes is very well known from the animated movie Finding Nemo, and they’re endemic to the Indian Ocean, the Pacific, and the Great Barrier Reef.
They’re traditionally orange with white stripes, but there are black and white variations.
Because of their pattern, they’re a common addition in aquariums, where fish breeders are selectively breeding different subspecies and achieving incredible patterns.
Scientific name: Myrmecobius fasciatus
This odd-looking mammal with stripes is rarely heavier than 24 ounces and is usually less than 18 inches long. Its base color is brown, and two stripes develop on the body as the animal ages.
Firstly, a black stripe runs from the muzzle through the eyes, all the way to the ears. Then, the numbat also has white vertical stripes across the body, anything from four to eleven stripes, which helps them hide, especially at night.
Numbats are endemic to Australia and can’t be found anywhere else.
20. Five-lined Skink
Scientific name: Plestiodon fasciatus
This species of lizard with stripes is endemic to the USA, often found in the eastern half of the country. They’re usually no longer than 8 inches, while their base color is dark brown or black.
They’re easily recognizable because of their five white stripes, which can sometimes be yellow, running horizontally down the body. The tail can often be bright or light blue.
They are, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful animals with stripes because of their vivid coloring.
21. Garter Snakes
Scientific name (genus): Thamnophis
One of the most common snakes in the world, the garter snake genus has about 35 recognized species with common differences in appearance.
However, if we compare a few species, most of them have at least one stripe running down the entire snake’s length.
These reptiles with stripes are generally harmless – they have some venom, but it’s very weak and they don’t have developed fangs, so their method of delivering it is ineffective.
They’re also calm and will rather hide its head and flail their tail while secreting a foul-smelling odor.
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