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Animals use their colours for many things – attracting a mate, warding off predators or camoflauging themselves. Here are 17 of the most colourful creatures found on planet earth. Some you will no doubt know, but have you ever heard of peacock mantis shrimp or rainbow lorikeet?

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Cotton harlequin bug

Flickr: Vanessa Pike-Russell

Flickr: Vanessa Pike-Russell

The cotton harlequin bug is one of the world’s most colourful insects and inhabits the Pacific Islands, New Guinea and Australia. Growing to around 2 cms, the bugs vary in colour between orange, red and blue. Interestingly, they are also known as ‘stink bugs’ for the bad smell they emit from their scent glands.

Pink katydid

Flickr: Zleng

Flickr: Zleng

Also known as the oblong-winged katydid, this species of bush-cricket’s unusual colour stems from genetics, not from environment or gender. They can be seen throughout the northeast and midwest of North America. The species in bright green, pink and orange, the latter being the rarest.


There are 202 different species and sub species of chameleon, one of the most known animals on this list. They live in the warmer climates of Africa, southern Europe and southern Asia. These iconic species are perhaps best known for their ability to change their colour depending on their surroundings. They do this using a superficial layer of skin which contains pigments.

Love birds

Flickr: Robyn Jay

Flickr: Robyn Jay

This social species of parrot is native to Africa and comes in a variety of colours. The name stems from the parrots lifelong bonding and the amount of time pairs spend together.

Lilac breasted roller

Flickr: Steve Slater

Flickr: Steve Slater

Though the species can be found throughout the African continent, the lilac breasted roller is the national bird of Kenya. Rollers tend to perch on trees in grassy clearings and use their brightly coloured plumage to attract a mate.

Clown fish

Made famous on Disney’s film Finding Nemo, the clown fish is easily recognizable by its yellow, orange or reddish colour with white strips. They prefer the warmer waters and corals of the Indian and Pacific oceans as well as the Red Sea


Another iconic bird. Found throughout the jungles of Central and South America, toucans are best known for their brightly-coloured large bills which are often half the length of the bird itself. They use these bills to get into fruit, nuts or catch insects.


Flickr: Steve Childs

Flickr: Steve Childs

This tiny colourful fish is part of the dragonet family and is native to the Pacific. Their names stems from their varied colours which evoke the robes of the Imperial Chinese mandarin. They are found in a range of colours and patterns.

Scarlet macaw

Flickr: jgreenberg

Flickr: jgreenberg

The scarlet macaw is a type of Neotropical parrot found in the tropical jungles of South America and Central America. Their distinctive plumage is red, yellow, blue and less commonly green which is uses to attract a mate. For a bird, they have a particularly long lifespan, often living to 50 years old.

Rainbow lorikeet

This species of parrot is native to the seaboards of Queensland and South Australia and lives in the rainforest and coastal bush. The plumage is bright – blue head, green collar and wings, red chest and yellow rump. They have been introduced to other parts of Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Golden pheasant

Also known as the Chinese pheasant, this colourful bird is native to the mountains of western China. Feral populations have been established in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and other parts of Europe and South America. They typically reach a metre and display a bright orange cape.

Peacock mantis shrimp

One of the most colourful animals in the world, the peacock mantis shrimp are found in the warmer waters of the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its shell is a brightly-coloured mishmash of red, green, orange and blue. They have the ability to attack prey at the same speed as a bullet, more than 50 times faster than a blinking eye.

Blue morpho butterfly

The blue morpho is part of a large family of morpho butterflies found in the tropics of South, Central and North America. As well as their bright blue colour, they are known for their distinctive bouncy flight due to wings being vastly larger than their body size.

Collared lizard

Flickr: Larry Smith

Flickr: Larry Smith

This North American lizard has distinct colours including a blue and green body and yellow head. They reach up to 14 inches and have the ability to run of their hind legs at speeds reaching 16 mph, much like theropod dinosaurs.

Blue ringed octopus

Flickr: Buzz

Flickr: Buzz

The blue ringed octopus lives in the tide pools and coral reefs of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. As well as their bright blue rings which give the octopus its name, they are known as being one of the world’s most venomous marine species. If provoked, the octopus can administer a neurotoxin powerful enough to kill humans.


The only mammal on this list, the mandrill is a primate of the Old World monkey family. They look similar to baboons, but are a separate species. They are found in Gabon, Congo, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea and are known for their brightly coloured face and backside. They are the largest monkey in the world.

Poison dart frog

This poison dart frog is native to the tropics of Central and South America. They can be found in a variety of colours from red to blue. They use their colours to ward off potential predators. Though small, their high toxicity comes from their diet of ants and termites and are called dart frogs due to the indigenous peoples use of the poison on their blowdarts.

Peacock spider

Flickr: Jurgen Otto

Flickr: Jurgen Otto

These amazing creatures have spectacular colouring and are known for their dancing courtship ritual in which they display their colourful patterns. They are small at just 3-5 mm making them particularly hard to spot.The Great Projects

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