Grape Friends: 10 Amazing Purple Animals

There may not be a One-horned One-eyed Flying Purple People Eater but there ARE a lot of actual purple animals around – one might say there are a bunch. Color them purple, lavender, mauve, orchid or violet, these colorful animals add a rich, distinctive tone to nature’s varied palette. Isn’t that grape?

Purple Emperor Butterfly

(images via: Butterfly-Conservation and BBC)

Purple Emperors are large butterflies found in southern England, most of continental Europe and in northern Asia as far east as Korea. How purple are Purple Emperors? That depends on your point of view… literally. The top surfaces of the butterfly’s wings are covered in iridescent scales that refract light toward the indigo blue to deep violent end of the visual spectrum. From certain angles to butterflies display a rich, royal purple tone.

(image via: The Independent)

Purple emperors normally live in forest treetops but males will descend to the forest floor and to roadsides in search of mineral salts. Sources for these essential salts are fresh animal dung or puddles infused with road salt.

Purple Beetles

(images via: Terrapodcast, Ursula Skjonnemand and Jon the Composer)

There are more different kinds of beetles than any other taxonomic order so one would expect to find a plethora of purple beetles. Such is not the case, however, and true purple beetles are noteworthy by their rarity. Er, sorry for the VWs, couldn’t resist.

(image via: Treknature)

In most cases, beetles that appear to be purple display this hue by virtue of iridescence – same technique as Purple Emperors. These beautiful, jewel-like insects display purple hues along with shades of blue and green.

(image via: Cetp)

Most animals use color as either a way to camouflage themselves against predators or to make themselves more visible to those of their own kind. As well, human vision does not register in the ultraviolet area so what appears purple to our eyes is actually irrelevant to the creatures’ actual intent.

Violet Sea Snails

(images via: MESA, Scribbly Gum Wiki and Florida State Parks)

The Violet Sea Snail is one weird gastropod. Its lovely lavender shell is paper-thin and fairly fragile – not really a problem because it spends its entire life floating on the surface of tropical oceans. It manages this by whipping up a froth of bubbles with its foot, then sealing the bubbles in mucus to form a foamy raft.

(image via: Cetp)

Violet snails aren’t just hermaphrodites, they’re protandric hermaphrodites which means they’re born male and turn female – going through “the Change” was never like this. If that’s not weird enough, consider the fact that Violet Sea Snails (when in their male phase) have no penis. Instead, they bundle up their sperm in a little floating package that somehow, somewhere, might happen to bump into a female snail. And we do mean “accidentally” because Violet Sea Snails are blind.

Purple Starfish

(images via: The Marque and Trip Advisor)

Starfish are a varied order of creatures that sport a surprisingly varied range of colors, including some striking hues of purple and violet.

(image via: Valerie Reiss)

It may be that the blue-green tint of seawater screens out some of the redder wavelengths of sunlight, therefore making a starfish that looks purple on dry land much more elusive when viewed underwater.

(image via: NunukPhotos)

The most commonly seen purple starfish is the Ochre Sea Star, found on and around Pacific Ocean coastlines in the intertidal zone. Though starfish, like most echinoderms, incorporate Calcium compounds into their exoskeletons, studies indicate that they will not be overly affected by rising ocean acidification that results from global warming. Good news if you like starfish… or if you ARE one.

Orchid Dotty Back

Orchid Dottybacks are popular aquarium fish and it’s no wonder why: though it only grows to a length of 2 inches (5cm), they add a jolt of brilliant violet to any indoor seascape. Keep in mind, however, that dottybacks are carnivorous and need a steady diet of meat (shrimp will do) to thrive in captivity.

(image via: Zoovisits)

Dottybacks are native to the western Indian Ocean and aren’t always purple – other colloquial names are Magenta Dottyback and Strawberry Dottyback. The Orchid Dottyback goes by a specific latin name: Pseudochromis Fridmani.

Indian Purple Frog

(images via: Scientific American, An Unquiet Mind and ZSL)

A bizarre purple burrowing frog discovered in 2003 doesn’t just look unlike any other frog, it IS unlike them, having split off from a common ancestor approximately 130 million years ago. The frog, Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis, shocked biologists into awarding it status as a new species in a wholly new family of amphibians.

(image via: Arkive)

Nasikabatrachus lives in the Western Ghats region of southern India. The bulbous, bloated, pointy-snouted frog bears the distinction of being the first new family of amphibians to be discovered since 1926. One of the frog’s more unusual features are its turquoise-rimmed tiny eyes… the better to see you with?

Indigo Snake

(images via: Toadaway and UGA)

The Eastern Indigo Snake is North America’s longest snake, though some rattlers can outweigh them. At up to 10 feet (3.05m) long, these Colubrid snakes make an instant impression. As big as they are, few people are familiar with the Eastern Indigo Snake or its southwestern relative, the Texas Indigo Snake, which often does not work to the snake’s advantage and that’s unfortunate: these snakes are immune to rattlesnake venom and will often take on rattlers… for lunch.

(image via: Optics Talk)

Indigo Snakes have smooth scales that reflect light with a measure of iridescence, giving them a deep purple appearance that shifts and shimmers in changing light conditions.

Purple Martin

(images via: Duncraft, Birdzilla and Kiwifoto)

Purple Martins are among America’s best loved birds, and they seem to like us as well. So thoroughly have these largest members of the Swallow family taken to the multistory Martin “apartments” homeowners have set out for them that they prefer living in them to more natural woodland nesting places. Purple Martins migrate and on the return trip will typically send a lone scout ahead to seek out a suitable nesting place. If the scout discovers the birdhouse you’ve set out, the same family group may return to it year after year.

(image via: Alan Murphy Photography)

Purple Martins are strict insect eaters – don’t bother setting out birdseed for them. In return for providing a safe and secure nesting place they will do what martins and swallows do so well: eat copious amounts of bothersome insects.

Pete, the Purple Squirrel

(images via: Tetrapod Zoology and Telegraph UK)

Squirrels aren’t naturally purple, so when a certain Grey Squirrel appeared sporting a distinctive, violet-tinged coat, naturally it attracted a lot of attention from British park-goers. The squirrel, quickly dubbed “Pete”, was seen by a number of witnesses in and around the grounds of Meoncross School in the town of Stubbington, Hampshire, UK.

(image via: Daily Mail UK)

Several theories have been put forth to try and explain how and why Pete the Purple Squirrel displays such an un-squirrel-like hue. One is that he (or she) got into a discarded printer ink cartridge and spread the ink over its fur while grooming. Another states that, like other creatures used as markers in scientific studies of population and distribution, Pete was sprayed with a non-toxic dye in order to make it easier for researchers to track him. If it’s the latter, than Pete should shortly revert to a more typical tint. Nuts!

Pelusa, the Purple Polar Bear

(images via: Drum-Core and Jlong5000)

Last and not least, we present Pelusa, the Purple Polar Bear of the Pampas… not an official name but one that reflects the normally snow white bear’s current abode at the Mendoza, Argentina, zoo. According to Julio Alvarez, a veterinarian at the zoo, “At the moment and for a few days longer Pelusa will look purple because we’ve applied an ointment as a treatment for skin problems.”

(image via: Drum-Core)

Added Alvarez, “This has been used in the past and sometimes it’s even used in human medicine.” Funny, I don’t recall any purple people walking around… then again, if your skin and hair turned bright purple would you even leave the house?

Purple is a color that seems to be seen more among species who may be “lower” on the Tree of Life but are, in their favor, more adept at exploiting the myriad possibilities of the color spectrum. We puny humans have to make do with dyed clothing… which may or may not be a point in our favor.

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