14 Pink Animals That Wow and Woo

Consider these your valentine from Mother Nature.

axolotl mexican salamander portrait underwater
izanbar / Getty Images

From bright fuchsia sunsets to ballet-slipper blooms, Mother Nature seems to have a soft spot for pink. And the rosy displays don't just stop with astronomical events and flowers. All manner of creatures boast various shades of magenta, fuchsia, coral, and rose; consider the following blushing beauties.

1
of 14

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate spoonbills bathing
Arthur Morris / Getty Images

While flamingos may be the poster children for pink animals, we couldn't pass up the beautifully quirky roseate spoonbill, a gorgeous pink wading bird with a charming spatulate bill. The color of the spoonbill results from its diet of crabs and shrimp. Sadly for these guys, their pink primary feathers were highly prized for use in ladies' fans in the late 19th century; by the 1930s, the once healthy Florida population had dipped to a total of only 30 to 40 breeding pairs. Fortunately, full legal protection against hunting was enacted, and there are now over 1,000 nesting pairs in Florida.

2
of 14

Pink Katydid

Pink Katydid walking on a vine

Hans Neleman / Getty Images

First described in 1874, pink katydids have inspired more than a century of discussion over the hows and whys of their incredible hue. At the turn of the 20th century, Harvard entomologist Hubbard Scudder suggested that the pink coloring could be seasonal and that green insects changed their colors with the autumn leaves for protection.

American entomologist and myrmecologist William Morton Wheeler rejected this theory. Based on finding bright pink katydid nymphs in the prairies of Wisconsin and Illinois during July 1907, he suggested a genetic root to the condition. Wheeler compared the state to albinism. For the first time, pink katydids became recognized as genetic "mutants" in the scientific literature. Entomologists now believe they've confirmed that Wheeler was right. Whatever the reason, we're happy that there are such things as pink katydids in the world.

3
of 14

Bargibant's Pygmy Seahorse

white seahorse with rounded belly and pink protrusions in near center of picture blending in with the pink fan coral it anchored to with tail

Glen MacLarty / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Bargibant's seahorse (or pygmy seahorse) lives exclusively on fan corals and are such masters of disguise (hence their lovely hues that match the pink of the coral) that they went unnoticed until a researcher found one while studying coral in a lab. The nodules on the seahorse even match the buds on the coral. They comes from the family Syngnathidae and measures a mere 1/2 to 1 inch in length.

4
of 14

Web-Footed Gecko

Palmatogecko (Pachydactylus rangei)
fotoclick / Getty Images

Web-footed geckos can thank their strangely translucent, salmon-colored skin for hiding them so well against the reddish sands of the Namib Desert where they live. Additional defense mechanisms include a vocabulary of clicks, squeaks, croaks, and other sounds to scare off potential attackers; plus, the old "break off the tail" trick that all geckos have. But perhaps the strangest thing about this reptile is that it does not have eyelids and thus must lick its eyeballs to keep them moist, proving that the animal world is stranger (and even more enjoyable) than fiction.

5
of 14

Orchid Mantis

Close-Up Of Orchid Mantis
Nurul Faridah / EyeEm / Getty Images

In 1879, Australian journalist James Hingsley returned from Indonesia with stories of a carnivorous pink orchid that lured butterflies to its petals and ate them alive. As you may have guessed, it wasn't a flower he saw; it was the amazingly deceptive flower-mimicking insect Hymenopus coronatus — the orchid mantis. In a more recent study to determine if the orchid mantis' fancy disguise lured insects to their deaths, scientists were surprised to find that the mantises attracted more insects than real flowers did.

And while other animals may camouflage with flowers to hide among and then ambush their prey, the schemes of the orchid mantis are different — they sit out alone on branches or leaves and pose as flowers rather than hiding amongst them. Nothing says "nature is intense" like bright bug-eating flower bugs.

6
of 14

Domestic Pigs

Close-Up Of Piglet At Farm
Manop Boonpeng / EyeEm / Getty Images

Some domestic pigs are black because they overproduce the pigment eumelanin, while pink pigs don't make any melanin at all and end up a "default" pink. But here's what's fascinating: Pigs evolved compelling coat colors only after domestication because of a human penchant for novelty, according to a study looking at wild and domestic pigs. As it turns out, pink pigs would not have survived in the wild long enough — because they would be easily detected by predators — to allow for the pink-producing mutations to have occurred.

7
of 14

Sea Stars

numerous sea stars colored from a light pink to maroon on the sea floor

Makri / Pixabay

There are around 2,000 different species of sea stars, and they come in a range of colors, including pink, which help them camouflage or scare off predators. One can find sea stars living in oceans all over the planet, from tropical habitats to the cold seafloor. Marine scientists have adopted the challenging task of renaming these charming echinoderms "sea stars" instead of the common starfish.

8
of 14

Elephant Hawk Moth

brown moth with pink markings on plant with red leaves

Gale Hampshire / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

This pink and olive green moth — which has the unusual distinction of being named after a mammal, a bird, and an insect — is one of 1,400 species of hawk moths found across the globe. The colors help them attract a mate in the dark, and during the day, they hide among the bright pinks of the blossoms on their favorite foods: willowherbs and fuchsias. Hawkmoths are the only moths able to hover in front of flowers to feed, like hummingbirds do, and are among the planet's fastest flying insects, reaching speeds of up to 12 miles per hour.

9
of 14

Amazon River Dolphin

The Amazon river pink dolphin with speckled skin pokes snout of water

chem7 / Flickr

The Amazon river dolphin — also known as the boutu, boto, or bufeo — has the distinction of being the largest of the freshwater dolphins, and happens to turn pink as it ages. In 2018, IUCN listed Amazon river dolphins as endangered. Primary threats include the use of the dolphins for fish bait, fishing with explosives, and contamination of the river water by mining operations.

10
of 14

Axolotl

Portrait of an axolotl
Argument / Getty Images

Check out the most charming salamander in all of the salamander world, the pink Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), also known as the Mexican walking fish. They do come in other colors such as white, black, yellow, and green. White axolotls always have pink fringed gills; black axolotls have gills of blue.

Not only are these amphibians just ridiculously cute, but they never undergo metamorphosis and thus stay in larval form their entire lives. Plus, they have super healing powers that allow them to do things like regenerate limbs.

11
of 14

Sea Anemone

anemone with numerous pink tentacles

Selena N. B. H. / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Named after the terrestrial flower that is equally showy, the sea anemone comes in a rainbow of dazzling colors, pink being among the loveliest. The color of the sea anemone depends on where they call home. If their host is a coral or sponge, they tend toward vibrant. In a more drab environment like a rock, muted colors reign. But this creature that's related to coral and jellyfish is more than just a pretty flowery glob; the anemone has some surprising traits. For example, they are carnivorous, can live to be 50 years old, and some of them can grow as large as 6 feet.

12
of 14

Pink Hairy Squat Lobster

pink fuzzy marine crustacean wanders in ocean

Subaluna / Shutterstock

Part Dr. Seuss, part arachnophobe's nightmare, this beguiling marine crustacean known as the “pink hairy squat lobster” (Lauriea siagiani) is not a lobster at all. Also called a fairy crab, the "lobster" belongs to the group of crabs called Anomurans and is just a half-inch long. The pink color allows it to camouflage perfectly on the pink giant barrel sponges the squat lobster calls home.

See one in action in the video below.

13
of 14

Nudibranch

Pink Dorid Nudibranch, Bali
Reinhard Dirscherl / Getty Images

The beautiful pink Tritoniopsis elegans, a marine gastropod mollusk that is often confused with sea slugs, first was scientifically discovered in the Red Sea. The range of this nudibranch spans the western Indo-Pacific. Of all the wildly beautiful traits that these creatures possess, their color is perhaps the most remarkable. Ranging in a spectrum from soft and dessert-colored to neon rainbow, they have evolved these hues for means of both camouflage — when matching their environment — and warning.

14
of 14

Flamingo

Love by heart
Photography by Marcio Ruiz / Getty Images

We couldn't do a gallery of pink animals and not include the most famous pink creature. For our final blushing beauties, the epitome of pink: flamingos. Although when flamingoes first hatch, they are a drab grey; they develop into glorious shades of peach and coral primarily because of their diet. The red and blue-green algae they eat is chock-full of beta carotene, which contains a reddish-orange pigment, and the mollusks and crustaceans flamingos favor also possess pigment-rich carotenoids.

And if their romantic color and heart-shaped kisses weren't lovey-dovey enough, consider this: Although flamingoes group in flocks that can number in the hundreds of thousands, a flamingo picks a single mate and generally remains monogamous for life.