Animal Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:00 What Is an Animal Adaptation?
  • 1:14 Examples of Animal Adaptations
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Caughron

Sarah has a master's degree in Applied Anthropology/Archaeology and has worked in formal and informal education since 2006.

If you've ever observed your own backyard or looked at books about animals, you've noticed there is a lot of diversity among animal species all over the world This is because of animal adaptations. Read on to explore more about the behavioral and physical traits of animals known as adaptations.

What Is an Animal Adaptation?

Some animals have scales, and some animals have spots. Some animals migrate, and some animals hibernate. You've probably observed the wide range of animal diversity by looking at books or even looking out your own window. This diversity in appearance and behavior is caused by animal adaptations.

Animal adaptions are behaviors or physical traits that improve an animal's chance of survival in his or her environment. Adaptations are influenced by environmental factors including terrain, climate, and food availability. Animals have needs such as food, water, shelter, and reproduction. To meet those needs, animals adapt to their environment.

An animal does not adapt overnight! For example, a giraffe didn't one day have a short neck and decide that in order to reach the acacia leaves at the top of the tree she needed to grow a long neck in her sleep.

In general, adaptation is a process that can take hundreds or thousands of years. Favorable traits and behaviors increase an animal's chance of surviving in his or her environment. This enables that animal to pass those traits and behaviors to their babies through the process of inheritance.

Examples of Animal Adaptations

Behavioral adaptations refer to something an animal does to survive, and physical adaptations refer to a physical trait an animal has to survive. Examples of behavioral adaptations include birds calling to mates, birds building nests, skunks spraying to warn predators, opossums playing dead, and black bears bluff charging as a warning. Migration and hibernation are also examples of behavior adaptations. These are things that animals do to survive in their environment.

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