The natural world is full of brilliant color. And often, animals are the most colorful elements of all. Many of us are familiar with at least a handful of brightly colored creatures, but there’s a good chance there are more than a few dazzling animals you haven’t seen yet.
List of Colorful Animals
Here’s our list of the most colorful animals in the world:
1. Painted Bunting
- Latin Name: Passerina ciris
- Habitat: Scrubby areas around the Gulf Coast region of the United States; also in parts of Mexico
- Size: About 5″ long, weighs less than 1 oz.
- Diet: Mostly seeds
- Colorful Feature: Males have feathering marked by blues, yellows, and greens
First on the list is the stunning painted bunting. As its name suggests, this little bird looks as though it’s been painted a range of beautiful colors. The adult males are the ones with the rainbow marbling. Females and young adult birds are a bright yellow-green color. While painted buntings are plentiful in the wild, some have been illegally captured to be sold as pets.
2. Mandarin Duck
- Latin Name: Aix galericulata
- Habitat: Forested areas near water in East Asia and parts of Ireland
- Size: Around 17″ long; about 1.5-2.5 pounds in weight
- Diet: Plants, seeds, insects, and small fish
- Colorful Feature: Males have brightly colored plumage marked by bright orange, green, red, yellow, and purple
Most of us imagine ducks as being nondescript, mostly white waterfowl. But of all duck species in the world, male mandarin ducks are probably the most colorful. Adult males almost look like sculptures. Their orangish neck feathers fan out over their iridescent, purplish chests. Their faces are marked by stripes of yellow-tinged white and deep, glistening green.
3. American Five-lined Skink
- Latin Name: Plestiodon fasciatus
- Habitat: Moist areas with plenty of hiding spots in eastern North America
- Size: About 5 to 8 inches long
- Diet: Mostly insects; can include smaller lizards and baby mice
- Colorful Feature: Five bright lines down the back; juvenile lizards have bright blue tails
Plenty of people who grew up in the eastern U.S. remember trying to catch these small lizards as children. These common, fast-moving creatures are abundant just about anywhere they can find places to hide. And even though younger skinks may have a metallic blue tail, that color typically fades with age.
4. Fiery-Throated Hummingbird
- Latin Name: Panterpe insignis
- Habitat: Forest canopies in Costa Rica and parts of Panama
- Size: About 4″ long; weight is about 0.2 ounces
- Diet: Nectar from various flower types
- Colorful Feature: Iridescent blue, green, yellow, red, and orange feathering
These stunningly colored birds are somewhat unique in that males and females have almost identical colorful plumage. Most of the body is a glimmering blue-green. But as their name suggests, the patch under the throat is bright yellow with a center that deepens to red. These little birds feed on nectar. Each male has a territory of flowers he visits, although males will usually allow females to take nectar from their flowers.
5. San Francisco Garter Snake
- Latin Name: Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia
- Habitat: Marshy areas in San Mateo County, CA and parts of Santa Cruz County, CA
- Size: Up to 55″ long
- Diet: Primarily wild frogs
- Colorful Feature: Unlike most wild snakes, they have vertical stripes made primarily of blue-green, brick red, and black
Most wild snakes seem to be made to blend into their habitat. But not the San Francisco garter snake. This endangered subspecies of the common garter snake has beautiful, cool-colored stripes. Their beauty makes them a common target for the pet trade despite the fact that catching and keeping them is currently illegal.
6. Rainbow Boa
- Latin Name: Epicrates cenchria
- Habitat: Humid areas of Central America and South America
- Size: About 5 feet to 6 feet long
- Diet: Mostly birds and rodents
- Colorful Feature: Scales are made with structural coloration, meaning that their build has an effect on the visible light spectrum and makes them appear to have a rainbow iridescent sheen.
Though most snakes are easy keepers in captivity, the rainbow boa is not. Like iguanas, they require a very specific humidity and temperature. At first glance, it might look like this snake is just dark brown with light brown patches. But as soon as the light catches it, you’ll be amazed by its almost holographic sheen.
7. Golden Pheasant
- Latin Name: Chrysolophus pictus
- Habitat: Mountain areas of western China, although smaller feral groups can be found all over the world
- Size: About 35″-41″
- Diet: Mostly wheat and leaves of wheat plants
- Colorful Feature: Males have bright yellow, blue, and red coloring that makes them amazingly colorful
The golden pheasant, also called the Chinese pheasant, is another bird that almost doesn’t look real. The males have a painted look about their feathering. From the golden head to the scarlet and deep blue body, they’re almost like having a walking art piece. Interestingly enough, females are a drab brownish gray – perfect for hiding the nest but not much to look at.
- Latin Name: Mandrillus sphinx
- Habitat: Primarily in tropical rainforests and other forest types in parts of Africa
- Size: Males are around 40-80 pounds while females are about 20-30 pounds
- Diet: Mostly plants, insects, soil, and small vertebrates
- Colorful Feature: Males have bright blue and red colored faces
You might not typically think of a monkey when you imagine a colorful creature. But compared to other mammals, the mandrill is incredibly colorful. Like some iridescent snakes, mandrills exhibit structural coloring, an alteration in surface texture that makes them appear to be blue. Interestingly enough, mammals are actually incapable of producing blue pigment.
9. Mandarin Fish
- Latin Name: Synchiropus splendidus
- Habitat: Warm waters of the Pacific Ocean
- Size: Less than 3″ long
- Diet: Primarily worms and other types of small aquatic life
- Colorful Feature: The green mandarin, one of the most common varieties, has a deep blue body with patches of orange
Fish are some of the most colorful animals in the world, and the small yet bright mandarin fish is a great example. It is one of the rare animals that can actually produce blue pigment, and much of its body is a deep cerulean blue. The blue is marked by map-like patches of orange. And even though they make beautiful additions to aquariums, mandarin fish are notoriously difficult to keep in captivity.
10. Yellow-Banded Poison Dart Frog
- Latin Name: Dendrobates leucomelas
- Habitat: Rain forests in the northern parts of South America
- Size: Around 1″ in length; weight is less than 1 oz.
- Diet: Mostly beetles and other small insects
- Colorful Feature: The body is banded with dark black and bright yellow
Poison dart frogs come in many varieties, and this one looks like a frog borrowed coloring from a bumblebee. The bright color serves as a warning for would-be predators. All poison dart frogs in this genus are able to secrete neurotoxins from their skin. Scientists believe that the toxins can only be produced if the frogs eat a certain type of prey, but they aren’t sure of what kind.
11. Veiled Chameleon
- Latin Name: Chamaeleo calyptratus
- Habitat: Areas with dense vegetation in Saudi Arabia and Yemen
- Size: About 14″ to 24″ long
- Diet: Insects and some vegetation
- Colorful Feature: Most have some amount of orange, white, or yellow mottling, and captive chameleons have been bred in a variety of morphs
The friendly veiled chameleon is one of the world’s most popular pet lizards. You might be surprised to hear that these tranquil creatures can be found in the wild in forested areas of the Arabian peninsula. Wild chameleons are usually mostly green with mottling of different colors. However, a select few breeders have developed lines of chameleons with otherworldly coloring.
12. Gouldian Finch
- Latin Name: Chloebia gouldiae
- Habitat: Plains and forests in Australia
- Size: Around 5″ long
- Diet: Mostly seeds
- Colorful Feature: Both sexes are covered in patches of brightly-colored feathers
These beautiful birds look a bit like painted buntings. But they’re unusual in that both males and females are covered in patches of different colors. You can still tell them apart, though. Males have a deep purple chest while females have paler, mauve chests.
13. Gold Dust Day Gecko
- Latin Name: Phelsuma laticauda
- Habitat: Forests, shrubby areas, gardens, and urban areas in northern Madagascar and neighboring islands
- Size: Between 6″ and 9″ long
- Diet: Insects, nectar, fruit, and occasionally other lizards
- Colorful Feature: Their bright green bodies are accented with sky-blue eyelids and bold red markings
There’s a good chance that this gold dust day gecko looks familiar. This is the species that the animated GEICO mascot is designed to look like. These geckos are like a more tropical version of a five-lined skink. They are adaptable and are just as at home in the sides of buildings as they are in scrubland.
14. Rainbow Lorikeet
- Latin Name: Trichoglossus moluccanus
- Habitat: Rainforest, forest, and brush in Australia
- Size: Up to 12″ long
- Diet: Mostly pollen, nectar, and fruit
- Colorful Feature: Both males and females are marked with patches of bright blue, yellow, green, and red
The rainbow lorikeet is the most commonly seen Australian bird. Each one is a remarkable burst of color, as females and males are almost impossible to distinguish visually. They are loyal and tend to mate for life. Unlike many species of birds, rainbow lorikeets travel in pairs more often than they travel in larger flocks. These birds are also popular as pets thanks to their friendly nature and brilliant coloring.
15. Emerald Tree Boa
- Latin Name: Corallus caninus
- Habitat: Rainforests in South America
- Size: Up to 6′ long
- Diet: Mostly small mammals
- Colorful Feature: Bright green body with pale “lightning bolt” markings
The aptly named emerald tree boa is one of the brightest snakes in the world. In order to blend in with its rainforest surroundings, this snake is mostly an energetic yellow-green color. Pale zigzag markings mimic the look of sunlight filtering through the rainforest canopy. These boas can get to be quite large, but they are not venomous to humans.
16. Resplendent Quetzal
- Latin Name: Pharomachrus mocinno
- Habitat: Montane cloud forests ranging from western Panama to southern Mexico
- Size: Between 14″ and 16″ long
- Diet: Mostly fruit with some insects and smaller vertebrates
- Colorful Feature: Iridescent feathers that can look green, blue, lime, or blue-violet depending on the light
This beautiful bird has a great deal of connection to the culture of Guatemala. In the legend of warrior hero Tecun Uman, a quetzal was a spirit guide. Though quetzals aren’t very adept at flying, they make beautiful natural ornaments. Their streamer-like tail feathers can reach lengths of over three feet. Interestingly enough, though their iridescent feathers can appear to be a wide variety of colors, their actual pigmented color is brown.
17. Rosy Maple Moth
- Latin Name: Dryocampa rubicunda
- Habitat: Areas of the eastern U.S. and Canada where many maple trees are present
- Size: Wingspan is up to 2″
- Diet: Mostly the leaves of maple trees
- Colorful Feature: Their wings are bright yellow and pink
These pink and yellow moths aren’t often recognized by name, but chances are good that you’ve seen one at some point. Their bright and uncommon colors stand out. When in caterpillar form, these moths eat the leaves of their host maple trees. But the adult form of the moth does not eat at all. That’s somewhat remarkable because they live longer than many species. Most adult rosy maple moths live from about two months to nine months.
18. Jewel Bug
- Latin Name: Scutiphora pedicellata
- Habitat: Often in and around fields of crops
- Size: About 0.2″ to 0.8″
- Diet: Various types of plants
- Colorful Feature: Iridescent, oil-like metallic sheen
The term “jewel bug” actually refers to the entire Scutiphora genus of brightly-colored bugs. Though they’re unusually beautiful for bugs, jewel bugs pose a serious pest problem in most of the world. And be forewarned: jewel bugs are related to stink bugs, and many of them are able to produce an unpleasant stench when disturbed.
19. Betta Fish
- Latin Name: Betta splendens
- Habitat: Shallow waters in and around Thailand
- Size: Usually between 2.4″ and 3″ long
- Diet: Plankton, certain larvae, and small crustaceans
- Colorful Feature: Long fins and scales come in a range of deep, bright colors
This beautiful fish, commonly called Siamese fighting fish, evolved in shallow, vegetation-rich water in Thailand. Because they developed in poor quality water, betta fish have the rare ability to get air from the surface of water. Thanks to selective breeding, they come in a wide range of glimmering, metallic colors like pearl white, fiery red, and deep blue.
20. Scarlet Macaw
- Latin Name: Ara macao
- Habitat: Amazon rainforests in central and South America
- Size: Over 30″ in length
- Diet: Flowers, nectar, seeds, and fruits
- Colorful Feature: Brightly-colored feathers make them a visual standout
The scarlet macaw just might be the most easily recognized large bird. It’s what most people imagine when they picture a parrot. These Amazonian birds have red, yellow, and blue feathers, although there is usually a patch of green on the rump. Although you can find them in the wild, scarlet macaws are often kept as pet birds. They usually live 40-50 years or more in captivity.
- Latin Name: Hipposcarus harid
- Habitat: Indian and Pacific Oceans, especially near coral reefs
- Size: Around 12″, although sizes do vary
- Diet: Mostly algae, although many also eat other smaller organisms
- Colorful Feature: Bright yellow, blue, and pink patterned scales
The parrotfish gets its name from its unusual mouth. Unlike many other fish species, this one has a collection of teeth that are very close together. The teeth form a structure that’s close to that of a bird’s beak. “Parrotfish” also refers to an entire genus of fish. Longnose parrotfish are easily some of the most colorful.
22. Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
- Latin Name: Ceyx erithaca
- Habitat: Forests in India and southeast Asia
- Size: About 4.5″ to 5.5″ long
- Diet: Small frogs, lizards, insects, crabs, fish, etc.
- Colorful Feature: Glimmering yellow, orange, pink, and blue-violet feathers
You may already be familiar with the general build of long-beaked kingfisher birds. But this tiny kingfisher is the most colorful of them. Though it’s only a few inches in length, the oriental dwarf kingfisher draws the eye. It has a yellow-orange underside that’s often tinged with reddish orange. Its deep blue-black back feathers offer a striking and memorable contrast.
23. Golden Tortoise Beetle
- Latin Name: Charidotella sexpunctata
- Habitat: Many regions across North America and South America
- Size: Around 0.5″
- Diet: Leaves of many plant types, including sweet potatoes and morning glories
- Colorful Feature: The shell is a metallic gold that makes the beetle look almost metal
Although these brilliant-looking beetles almost look like golden pendants at first glance, they are actually nuisance bugs for anyone growing any kind of crop. Regardless, they are unique to look at. The center of the shell is metallic, but the parts around the edges are almost entirely transparent.
24. Blue Morpho Butterfly
- Latin Name: Morpho peleides
- Habitat: Rainforests of South America, as well as some areas of Mexico and Central America
- Size: Wingspan of about 3″ to 8″
- Diet: Juice from rotting fruit, especially kiwi and mango
- Colorful Feature: Bright, shimmering blue wings with black accents
There are many subspecies of blue morpho butterflies. All of them have one thing in common. Their blue color is caused by very small scales on the wings. These scales reflect light in such a way that our eyes see it as being blue. Interestingly enough, this type of blue morpho, Morpho peleides, doesn’t drink nectar for food. Instead, it drinks juice from rotting fruits.
25. Christmas Tree Worm
- Latin Name: Spirobranchus giganteus
- Habitat: Tropical oceans, especially on coral reefs
- Size: About 1.5″ long
- Diet: Microorganisms filtered from the water by the worm’s radioles
- Colorful Feature: Brightly-colored tentacles called “radioles” that look like the branches of a Christmas tree
This strange creature forms two spiral structures, each of which looks a bit like a decorated Christmas tree. The “branches” of the trees are made up of radioles – feathery appendages that filter oxygen and microorganisms from the surrounding water. Christmas tree worms come in a range of very bright colors, and they can commonly be found on coral reefs.
26. Sri Lankan Green Vine Snake
- Latin Name: Ahaetulla nasuta
- Habitat: Bushes, shrubs, and other types of low vegetation in Sri Lanka
- Size: Around 75″ long
- Diet: Mostly frogs and lizards
- Colorful Feature: Bright green scales with some black and white patterns
As you probably guessed from the name, this snake largely disguises itself among vines when hunting. Its bright green color helps it to camouflage, but it’s even more striking when threatened. When the Sri Lankan green vine snake perceives a threat, its body expands to show an intricate pattern of black and white scales.
27. Siberian Tiger
- Latin Name: Panthera tigris altaica
- Habitat: Mountainous areas of eastern Russia and northeastern China
- Size: Usually between 250 and 500 pounds
- Diet: Various types of deer and moose, but tigers will also go after smaller prey like rabbits and salmon
- Colorful Feature: Bright orange coat with dramatic black lines
Many of the world’s most colorful animals are birds and sea creatures. But tigers are among some of the planet’s most colorful mammals, too. These big cats have a dramatic stature that’s only made more intimidating by inky black lines coursing over their fiery orange coats.
28. Grey Crowned Crane
- Latin Name: Balearica regulorum
- Habitat: Marshes and grasslands in sub-Saharan Africa
- Size: About 3′ tall with a wingspan of about 6′
- Diet: Small vertebrates, insects, eggs, plants, grains, and seeds
- Colorful Feature: Golden feather crown with red facial skin and blue eyes
These birds are much more colorful than most crane species. While their bodies are primarily gray and white, grey crowned cranes have unusual-looking “crowns” of stiff golden feathers. When combined with the black patch at the top of the head, white facial feathers, and red facial skin, the crown makes these birds look especially memorable.
29. Bush Viper
- Latin Name: Atheris squamigera
- Habitat: Bushy areas of western and central Africa
- Size: Usually between 18″ and 24″ long
- Diet: Mostly small mammals
- Colorful Feature: While many bush vipers are plain olive-brown, some of these snakes are bright yellow or orange
The bush viper is among the most dramatic-looking snakes in the world. Colors are highly variable from individual to individual. But as you can see, some vipers are incredibly bright in color. These venomous snakes are able to subdue their prey by releasing venom through hollow fangs.
30. Discus Fish
- Latin Name: Symphysodon aequifasciatus
- Habitat: Parts of the Amazon Basin
- Size: Usually about 6″ in length
- Diet: Small aquatic organisms
- Colorful Feature: Widely varying color patterns, many of which involve stripes and intricate patterns
Like many fish in the Amazon, discus fish are brightly colored. But much like betta fish, discus fish have become popular aquarium fish. In fact, they’ve become so popular that there is even a thriving discus fish network of breeders and shows. The discus fish’s flat, round profile makes it an ideal canvas for all of its bright color patterns.
31. Nicobar Pigeon
- Latin Name: Caloenas nicobarica
- Habitat: Coastal regions of Malay and Indian islands (as well as nearby islands)
- Size: Around 16″ long
- Diet: Fruit, seeds, buds, and grain when available
- Colorful Feature: Iridescent copper-to-green hackle and back feathers
Many of us don’t think of pigeons when we imagine a colorful animal. But these striking island pigeons are certainly a standout. While they are built somewhat like city pigeons, Nicobar pigeons have longer, more dramatic hackles that shine greenish-copper. These birds also have short, stark white tails.
32. Halloween Crab
- Latin Name: Gecarcinus quadratus
- Habitat: Rainforests, mangrove forests, and sand dunes along the west coast of Mexico and Panama
- Size: About 2″ long
- Diet: Mostly plant material
- Colorful Feature: Reddish-orange legs and bright purple claws, sometimes with a few yellow or white spots
This unusual crab has an apt name. After all, many of us associate both purple and orange with Halloween. The back of its shell is mostly black. Some individuals have bright yellow spots behind their eyes, too. Halloween crabs tend to burrow in forests, but they do return to coastal areas to breed. As you might expect, their beautiful and unusual coloring has led many people to want to keep them as pets.
33. Pink-Necked Green Pigeon
- Latin Name: Treron vernans
- Habitat: Lowlands and coastal areas in Southeast Asia
- Size: Usually between 10″ and 12″
- Diet: Almost entirely fruit, especially figs
- Colorful Feature: Males have green bodies with bright pink necks. Some individuals also have patches of orange, purple, and blue
These striking birds are yet another example of a species where the male is much more colorful than the female. Both sexes have lower bodies that are primarily a dull olive green, but the male has a neck that ranges from pastel pink to a soft lavender color. Much like many other species of pigeons, these birds have adapted well to living in cities when need be.
34. Pink Orchid Mantis
- Latin Name: Hymenopus coronatus
- Habitat: Tropical, forested areas of Southeast Asia
- Size: Usually around 2″ long
- Diet: Primarily other insects
- Colorful Feature: It can change color from pinkish white to brownish pink depending on camouflage needs
These striking insects are able to seamlessly blend in with orchid petals while they wait for prey. Though they are soft in color, it’s remarkable to see just how similar their coloring is to that of actual orchid petals. They also have the chameleon-like quality of being able to adjust their color slightly.
35. Red Velvet Ant
- Latin Name: Dasymutilla occidentalis
- Habitat: Most areas of the eastern United States
- Size: About 3/4″ long
- Diet: Mostly larvae and adults of various insects
- Colorful Feature: Females have bright red “fur” that looks like red velvet
Despite the name, the red velvet ant is not an ant at all, it’s a type of wasp. The females of the species don’t have wings. However, their bright red and black coloring tends to be a useful warning sign for predators. The female red velvet ant can deliver a sting that’s so painful that the species has been nicknamed “cow killer.” The males of the species have wings, but they are incapable of stinging. However, they do have the same red and black coloring, and that is often enough to warn would-be predators to stay away.
36. Orange-Breasted Sunbird
- Latin Name: Anthobaphes violacea
- Habitat: Shrubby areas of South Africa
- Size: About 5″ to 6″ in length
- Diet: Mostly the nectar of certain types of flowers
- Colorful Feature: Males have iridescent blue-green backs and heads and bright orange-yellow undersides
Just as its name would suggest, the orange-breasted sunbird is reminiscent of a sunrise. It’s also yet another species in which the male is the colorful one. Males have shimmering deep blue bodies with a burst of yellowish-orange. Both sexes have long, downward-curving beaks perfect for gathering nectar.
37. Spider-Man Agama
- Latin Name: Agama mwanzae
- Habitat: Semi-desert regions of Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania
- Size: About 6″ to 9″ long
- Diet: Mostly insects. They also drink more water than most lizards
- Colorful Feature: Males have red upper bodies and blue lower bodies like Spider-Man
Agama lizards aren’t particularly popular as pets. But thanks to the coloration of the male of this species (also called the Mwanza flat-headed rock agama), the Spider-Man agama has become more popular. Notably, the female Spider-Man agama is a nondescript brown-gray color.
38. Royal Angelfish
- Latin Name: Pygoplites diacanthus
- Habitat: Tropical Indo-Pacific oceans
- Size: Up to 10″ in length
- Diet: Mostly sea sponges
- Colorful Feature: Blue, white, and yellow-orange stripes make it especially striking
The royal angelfish (also called the regal angelfish) is one of the world’s most colorful tropical fish. The exact coloring will vary by individual, but many individuals have a fiery orange base color with black-bordered white stripes. Their fins are often a mixture of yellow and energetic blue.
39. Keel-Billed Toucan
- Latin Name: Ramphastos sulfuratus
- Habitat: Jungles in Central America and some of South America
- Size: Up to 22″ long
- Diet: Small animals, eggs, and plant material
- Colorful Feature: Yellow throat and multicolor bill offer a striking contrast against its black body
The keel-billed toucan is your archetypical toucan, and its standout feature is its very bright bill. Usually, the bill is a pale spring green with patches of orange, red, sky blue, and even purple. You might think that the bill would be heavy. However, it’s a very lightweight bone that is covered with keratin. This stately and exotic-looking animal is also the national bird of Belize.
40. Sunbeam Snake
- Latin Name: Xenopeltis unicolor
- Habitat: Open areas of Southeast Asia, especially rice paddies
- Size: About 3′ long
- Diet: Various small animals
- Colorful Feature: Dark, iridescent scales that have a rainbow sheen
Without enough of a light source, the sunbeam snake looks like just another dark-colored snake. But its especially smooth scales are incredibly iridescent, and in direct sunlight, it has a stunning rainbow sheen. Though the sunbeam snake isn’t especially large, it’s able to kill a wide variety of prey via constriction. However, it spends a significant amount of time underground.
41. Blue Dragon
- Latin Name: Glaucus atlanticus
- Habitat: Tropical and temperate oceans, especially near the coast of South Africa and the east coast of Australia
- Size: Up to 1.2″ long
- Diet: Small bites of larger organisms, including the Portuguese man o’ war
- Colorful Feature: Bright, silvery blue coloration over pointed, finger-like structures
This strange sea creature looks more like an action figure than it does an animal. But even though it’s small, the blue dragon (a species of nudibranch, or sea slug) can be dangerous. It feeds on venomous ocean animals like the potentially deadly Portuguese man o’ war jellyfish. If a human touches it, they may still suffer a serious reaction to that venom.
42. Rainbow Grasshopper
- Latin Name: Dactylotum bicolor
- Habitat: Prairies, grasslands, and fields in the western half of the United States, southern Canada, and Mexico
- Size: Up to 1.4″ long
- Diet: Various types of plant matter
- Colorful Feature: The distinctive body is red, yellow, and green mottled with black
These grasshoppers are noticeably much more colorful than your average grasshopper. But their striking coloring serves a purpose. It warns birds and lizards that it doesn’t taste particularly good. This type of “warning coloration” is known as aposematism.
43. Violet-Backed Starling
- Latin Name: Cinnyricinclus leucogaster
- Habitat: Woodlands and forest edges in sub-Saharan Africa
- Size: About 7″ long
- Diet: Fruits, seeds, and some types of bugs
- Colorful Feature: Males have an iridescent, plum-purple back and pure white chest
Male violet-backed starlings almost don’t look real. Their faces and backs are a deep, glimmering purple. That purple contrasts sharply with their pure white chests. Females, on the other hand, are a more drab, brownish color. Though the males help feed the chicks once they’re hatched, the neutral color of the females helps them avoid attracting predators as they incubate eggs. These birds typically nest in holes in trees or fenceposts.
44. Ring-Necked Snake
- Latin Name: Diadophis punctatus
- Habitat: Preferably moist areas with plenty of cover throughout most of the U.S. and parts of Canada and Mexico
- Size: About 10″ to 15″ in length
- Diet: Usually worms and slugs, but sometimes frogs and lizards
- Colorful Feature: Though the top is black or dark gray, the belly is a fiery red, orange, and/or yellow
This snake species is certainly surprising. From the top, the ring-necked snake looks unremarkable except for a small, cream-colored ring around the neck. But if you look at the snake’s belly, you’ll see that it’s almost entirely a bright yellow, orange, or red. This coloration is especially useful if the snake starts to feel threatened. Sometimes, a ring-necked snake will coil the end of the tail when frightened. That shows the predator or other potential threat the colorful underside. In some cases, that display may be enough to get the snake out of trouble.
45. Greater Blue-Ringed Octopus
- Latin Name: Hapalochlaena lunulata
- Habitat: Tropical and subtropical regions of the Indo-Pacific
- Size: Up to 4″ long
- Diet: Shrimp, crabs, and sometimes small fish
- Colorful Feature: The many iridescent blue rings on this octopus serve as a warning to predators. The octopus will even flash them at potential predators to communicate danger.
Even though it’s a very small octopus, the greater blue-ringed octopus is one of the most venomous aquatic animals in the world. It has a sharp beak that releases paralyzing venom. Although this octopus is not typically aggressive toward humans, its bite can potentially be fatal. The main toxin in its venom is tetrodotoxin, the same toxin pufferfish use for defense.
46. Mediterranean Nudibranch
- Latin Name: Berghia coerulescens
- Habitat: Oceans in the central and western Mediterranean
- Size: Up to about 2.75″
- Diet: Certain types of sea anemones
- Colorful Feature: Bright blue and orange-yellow patterns across the body make it especially beautiful to look at
You may already know that there are many different species of nudibranch. This is one of the more colorful ones. Despite its very small size, the Mediterranean nudibranch packs a serious color punch. It’s also small enough to make keeping it in aquariums relatively easy.
47. Black-Browed Barbet
- Latin Name: Psilopogon oorti
- Habitat: Forests of Malaysia and Sumatra
- Size: Around 8″ long
- Diet: Mostly insects and fruit
- Colorful Feature: Bright green body and yellow, blue, red, and black face
This cute little bird has a remarkable amount of color concentrated in its small face. As the name suggests, two black streaks above the eyes resemble eyebrows in humans. However, much of the bird’s face is made up of turquoise-blue feathers, yellow feathers around the beak, and a few bright red accents.
48. Turquoise-Browed Motmot
- Latin Name: Eumomota superciliosa
- Habitat: Open forests and scrubby areas in Central America, especially the Yucatan Peninsula
- Size: About 13″ in length
- Diet: Mostly insects, but may occasionally eat fruit
- Colorful Feature: Bright blue feathers and turquoise “eyebrows”
This bright little bird has a racket-shaped tail, meaning there is a long stretch in the middle that is just the shaft of a feather. The strange tail actually serves a protective purpose. Both males and females “wag” their tails when they see predators. Experts believe that’s designed to make predators understand they’ve been seen and that they’re unlikely to catch the bird. Though they may be exotic-looking, these motmots are plentiful on the Yucatan Peninsula and surrounding areas.
49. Blue Poison Dart Frog
- Latin Name: Dendrobates tinctorius “azureus”
- Habitat: Forests in the southern part of Suriname
- Size: About 1″ to 2″
- Diet: Ants, beetles, larvae, termites, and similar insects
- Colorful Feature: Striking bright blue coloration with darker blue spots
Despite the name, this type of poison dart frog was not used to make poison darts. Only a select few highly venomous species were. However, its skin does secrete some level of venom. Venom production is dependent on diet, and captive frogs don’t produce toxins. If you’re interested in keeping amphibians, this particular frog species is an especially beautiful choice. The body is shaded in a blue gradient from light to dark, and that gradient is then marked with darker spots. Blue poison dart frogs have a somewhat hunched-over appearance that only adds to their charm.
50. Rosemary Beetle
- Latin Name: Chrysolina americana
- Habitat: Most areas in the Near East, Middle East, North Africa, and southern Europe.
- Size: About 0.2″ to 0.3″
- Diet: Primarily rosemary, thyme, and lavender
- Colorful Feature: Purple-green iridescent shell with alternating vertical stripes
This beetle has a bit of a confusing scientific name. Since it includes the word “Americana,” you might think it was native to the Americas. However, you can find the rosemary beetle in parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It almost looks like jewelry or a candy wrapper. Its glimmering shell has alternating purple and green stripes. And as you can probably tell from its name, this colorful bug prefers to feed on herbs and other pleasant-smelling plants.
51. Madagascan Sunset Moth
- Latin Name: Chrysiridia rhipheus
- Habitat: Most areas of Madagascar where Omphalea plants (the moth’s preferred host) are present
- Size: Wingspan is roughly 3″-4″
- Diet: Nectar sourced mostly from white-colored flowers
- Colorful Feature: Multicolored, iridescent wings outlined and marked in jet black
The Madagascan sunset moth is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful of all moths and butterflies. It gets its name from the sunset-like nature of its iridescent wings. But interestingly enough, its multiple colors don’t come from actual pigments. The color is caused by optical interference. That essentially means that the way light is reflected makes it look as though the wings are many colors.
52. Paradise Tanager
- Latin Name: Tangara chilensis
- Habitat: Subtropical and tropical forests in South America’s Amazon Basin
- Size: Around 5″ long
- Diet: Fruit, nectar, larvae, and insects
- Colorful Feature: Bright sky blue and light green feathers that contrast with a black and orange back
This tanager is markedly more colorful than most of the tanagers found in the United States (including the charming red scarlet tanager). This little bird’s body is primarily a dark bluish black. Its underbelly is a dazzling sky blue. And its face is a pale electric yellow-green. This bright, cartoon-like bird can be found in many parts of the Amazon rainforest.
53. Flower Hat Jelly
- Latin Name: Olindias formosus
- Habitat: Areas of the northwestern Pacific ocean
- Size: Up to about 6″ in diameter
- Diet: Usually small fish
- Colorful Feature: Glowing tentacles and a body that’s primarily bright green, blue, or pink
The flower hat jelly is not a true jellyfish, as it’s part of a different genus. Nonetheless, it’s still an especially colorful sea creature. These remarkably ornate jellies are usually blue, green, or pink, and their tentacles are extremely luminous. When they’re not being used, the tentacles stay close to the jelly’s body.
54. Peacock Mantis Shrimp
- Latin Name: Odontodactylus scyllarus
- Habitat: Indo-Pacific ocean regions
- Size: Ranges from about 1″ to 7″ in length
- Diet: Crustaceans, bivalves, and other soft organisms with shell
- Colorful Feature: Bright, multicolored shell that contains almost every color of the rainbow
The peacock mantis shrimp is much more colorful than your average shrimp. It’s also a savage hunter that “punches” the shells of prey in order to access the meat. It delivers this punch at the speed of 50 miles per hour, faster than any other living organism. The claws it uses for hammering are coated with an extremely dense material, and they can even manage to break typical glass aquariums.
55. Lilac-Breasted Roller
- Latin Name: Coracias caudatus
- Habitat: Savannas and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa
- Size: About 14″ to 15″
- Diet: Insects, lizards, snails, smaller birds, etc.
- Colorful Feature: Patchwork feathering in different pastel colors
This African bird is the official national bird of Kenya. And like some of the very colorful animals on the list, the lilac-breasted roller looks as though it’s been painted. This one has a somewhat softer color palette of pale lavender, turquoise, pink, tan, and blue. It’s a skilled hunter. It likes to perch up high and wait for small birds, frogs, lizards, insects, or other potential prey to come into its field of vision.
56. Picasso Bug
- Latin Name: Sphaerocoris annulus
- Habitat: Tropical and sub-tropical areas in Africa
- Size: Up to 0.31″ long
- Diet: Various plant types
- Colorful Feature: Their multicolored spotted backs have similar geometry to Picasso paintings
This aptly-named bug almost doesn’t look real. As a shield-backed bug, it’s a relative of the stink bug and jewel bug. The base color of its shield is a pale tan, and it’s marked with blue, red, and black spots that look as though they’ve been painted on.
57. Collared Lizard
- Latin Name: Crotaphytus collaris
- Habitat: Open, desert-like regions in Mexico and in parts of the southwestern United States
- Size: Up to 15″ long
- Diet: Primarily insects
- Colorful Feature: Bright yellow throat and spots (in males) with a bright blue body
These colorful lizards are officially known as the state reptile of Oklahoma. Collared lizards have come to be called “mountain boomers” there. That may be because early settlers heard a boom-like sound of wind in canyons and thought that sound was the lizard’s call. These lizards are also capable of running very quickly on only their hind legs. It’s a remarkable sight to behold.
Nature’s Most Colorful Animals
So there they are – some of the most colorful animals in the entire world. Be sure to keep an eye out around you. Even if you don’t live near the habitats of any of these remarkable creatures, a trip to the zoo or even a quick internet search can bring you closer to some of nature’s most dazzling beauties.