Animals of Africa: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Africa is a large continent that has many different kinds of animals. This lesson will teach you about some animals that you may not have heard of, how they live and some other interesting facts about them.

Animals of Africa

Imagine stepping into a teleporter in your living room and arriving on the grassy savannah in Africa. You see familiar animals like zebras, giraffes, lions, antelope and hippos. But Africa is a big continent with many different kinds of animals, including some you may have never heard of.

The Fossa

A fossa (pronounced FOO-sa) is an animal that lives only in Madagascar and looks like a cross between a cat and a weasel. It has a long tail, sharp teeth, and it can pull its claws in or push them out just like a house cat. Fossas don't like hanging out with other fossas and spend most of their time alone.


Fossas live in forests and areas with mountains and can weigh as much as 22 pounds, which is a few pounds heavier than a pug. Its tail can be up to 31 inches, which is about as long as its body!

They are great at climbing trees and hunting. Some of their favorite snacks include birds, mice and wild pigs. But their favorite meal is a lemur, which is another animal that lives in Africa.

The African Painted Dog

The African painted dog is a cousin to wolves, coyotes, foxes and even your pet dog. They hang out in savannahs, woodlands and grasslands to the south of the Sahara Desert. The biggest ones can weigh as much as 75 pounds. That's about the same as a large Labrador retriever.

African painted dog
African painted dog

Just like you hang out with your friends, African painted dogs like to be around each other and live in family groups called packs.

African painted dogs get their name from their patterned fur, which also distracts the animals they hunt and helps the pack seem larger. This helps them catch dinner, including gazelles, impalas and antelope.

The Tree Pangolin

Even though tree pangolins aren't related to anteaters, they look like anteaters that are covered in dragon scales with long claws and tails. They live alone in the rainforests of Africa in the middle of the continent. Although the biggest ones only weigh around 5 pounds, tree pangolins can be as long as 34 inches with a tail that can grow to be as long as its body! Their tail helps them hold on to branches high up in the trees, like an acrobat.

Tree pangolin in a zoo
Tree pangolin in a zoo

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