10 Golden Animals Touched by Midas

The stunning coloration of these creatures sets them apart in the natural world.

golden frog in a green aloe plant

Doug Lemke / Shutterstock

Midas was the king in Greek mythology who turned anything he touched into gold. Creatures throughout the animal world, from snails to fish to monkeys, appear in various shades of golden yellow. From the looks of these animals, it seems possible that Midas got his hands on these brilliantly adorned creatures. Here are 10 animals seemingly painted in gold.

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Golden Lion Tamarin

the face of a golden lion tamarind surround by bright orange fur

su neko / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

It's obvious how these charismatic monkeys, distinguished by their mane-like golden coats, got their names. Male and female golden lion tamarins are similar in appearance. They're native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil, but only an estimated 2,500 individuals remain in the wild because of deforestation and habitat loss. This is a significant improvement from the 200 estimated to be alive in the 1970s, at which point conservation efforts intensified. Suffice it to say, these monkeys are far more rare and special than their namesake color.

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Golden Tortoise Beetle

A shiny olden tortoise beetle

Ilona Loser / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

They look like they might be jewelry, but you'd be up for a creepy-crawly surprise if you found yourself wearing one of these. Golden tortoise beetles, sometimes called goldbugs, have shiny, metallic-colored shells most of the time but are capable of rapidly changing to a dull brownish-orange when disturbed or frightened. Incredibly, they do this by changing the flow of fluid between the layers of their cuticles. In North America, these beetles can be commonly found on sweet potato and morning glory plants.

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Golden Apple Snail

A bright yellow golden apple snail underwater attached to a green plant

Chapulines / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0 

This cute little guy is an amphibious variety of apple snail. Not surprisingly, golden apple snails are popular as aquarium pets in large part because of their flashy appearance. Aside from their rich looks, though, they are a terrible invasive species worldwide due to the significant economic agricultural losses they cause, particularly to irrigated rice crops. Their extreme adaptability—they have both a gill and a lung—has led to their tolerance for a variety of habitats.

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Golden Slender Mongoose

golden slender mongoose with a pink nose and short ears

Karelj / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Slender mongooses showcase a variety of coat colors, but perhaps the most striking variety is golden. These cute carnivores can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa sneaking among the yellow savanna grasses and sleeping in holes in trees and burrows; sometimes they dig their own, but usually they take over existing burrows. As befits their popular image, they are also as capable as other mongooses at hunting and killing venomous snakes—making them beautiful and deadly.

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Golden Eyelash Viper

Bright yellow eyelash viper curled on a tree branch

Pavel Kirillov / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

Don't be tempted by the golden batting eyelashes of these shiny serpents from Central American and northern South America. Although they are docile and don’t bite frequently, they are venomous. Their sharp gold complexion and unique eye cover make them popular as pets. In the wild, golden eyelash vipers hide among yellow fruit trees. Not all eyelash vipers are gold-colored, but they are often bred that way because of their striking appearance. The gold ones show little additional coloration, while eyelash vipers of different colors (green, silver, grey, etc.) tend to have speckled markings or crossbands.

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Yellow Tang

A yellow tang swimming along a large green and orange coral reef

Kevin Hill / Getty Images

A wide variety of gold and yellow fish exist, especially among tropical species. Perhaps the most striking to represent them is the yellow tang (aka lemon sailfish), a reef fish frequently found in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii. Members of the surgeonfish family, they feed predominantly on algae at the bottom of shallow reefs where their color makes them difficult to miss. The males will change color and create a shimmering appearance to attract females while mating. To humans, these fish may appear to stand out, but to other fish they blend in well to a coral reef background.

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Gee's Golden Langur

A Gee's golden langur with a solid black face and golden fur

Yathin S Krishnappa / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

These super-stylish monkeys, with hair color that varies from gold to cream to rust, hail from Assam, in northeastern India, and neighboring Bhutan. They like moist evergreen and tropical deciduous forests. Not only does their fur vary across their bodies, it also changes color geographically and seasonally. Unfortunately, they're endangered, with a population of 6,500 and decreasing. Conservation efforts are underway, but their habitat continues to be degraded by human activity.

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American Goldfinch

American goldfinch on a branch

Rodney Campbell / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Gold is actually a relatively frequent color in bird feathers, and the American goldfinch makes for a familiar representative. Breeding males showcase the rich golden plumage. Females play it modest with a dull, yellow-brown shade. Unlike so many other species, the goldfinch has actually benefited from human activity. They are often found in the winter as visitors to bird feeders in residential areas. You might spy them feeding in a frenzied manner ahead of a storm.

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Golden Poison Dart Frog

Bright yellow poison dart frog with black eyes

Wilfried Berns / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Endemic to the rainforest along the Pacific coast of Colombia, these precious little amphibians are actually seriously deadly. They get their name from the alkaloid toxin that coats their skin, which some have used for poisoning hunting darts. Their bright yellow color serves as a warning to predators. The frogs' poison is so lethal that it may even be the most poisonous of any living animal, producing enough venom to kill 10 humans at one time.

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Bolivian Golden Bat

A bat hanging upside down in a large, full tree

Marc Rauw / Getty Images

Named after King Midas himself, Myotis midastactus, or the Bolivian golden bat, was recognized as a new bat species in 2014. Hailing from the Bolivian savanna and extending into Paraguay, the Bolivian golden bat has short, woolly, golden fur. The Bolivian golden bat is paler and more uniform in color than other species in the region, and is one of six new bat species discovered in South America. Pictured is a bat in Serengeti National Park.