Grassland Animal Adaptations

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Non-Membrane Bound Organelles: Definition & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:03 Grasslands & Animal…
  • 1:57 Camouflage
  • 2:31 Finding Food
  • 3:20 Burrows & Nests
  • 4:03 Being Social
  • 5:01 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Taormina Lepore

Taormina has taught advanced high school biology, is a science museum educator, and has a Master's degree in museum paleontology.

Across the planet, there are numerous grasslands, each with its own unique animal inhabitants. How do the animals in these grassland environments survive and adapt? In this lesson, we'll explore grassland animal adaptations, the behavioral and physiological traits that help animals survive.

Grassland & Animal Adaptions

When you hear the word grassland, what comes to mind? If you said vast areas of grass stretching off toward the horizon, the landscape dotted with animals, then you would be right. Grasslands are defined as areas where there is too little rainfall to support a forest, but too much rainfall to classify the land as a dry desert. Trees aren't common in grasslands, either from poor soil and a lack of overall rainfall, or from excessive tree browsing from grassland animals. In temperate grasslands, rainfall is low throughout the year, with hot summers and cold winters. Tropical grasslands, on the other hand, receive seasonal rainfall and are generally warm throughout the year.

From the prairies in North America, to the lion-prowled savannas of Africa, to the steppe grasslands of Asia, to the pampas grasslands in South America and the rangelands of Australia, grasslands are found across the globe, ranging from temperate to tropical regions. The animals that live in each of these grasslands must adapt in order to survive in their particular environment, waging a daily battle against the elements, resources, predators, and rivals.

Animal adaptations in a grassland are often based around grass itself. The expansive, grassy plains and prairies provide unique environments in which animals must survive. Grasses allow animals to use camouflage to hide from prey or predators; grass is a tough but abundant food source; a variety of grasses can be used to create or to hide nests and burrows; and social capabilities evolve among grassland animals, helping them survive. We'll define these adaptations and provide an example of each by taking a look at some grassland animals. Keep in mind that these are only a few examples of the huge variety of grassland animal adaptations.


When an animal is well hidden in its environment, we say that it is using camouflage. Camouflage can help predators sneak up on prey, and it can also help prey animals hide from predators. In grassland environments, the grass itself plays a key role in what camouflage looks like on the feathers, fur, and skin of animals.

For example, the Malayan tiger lives in the grasslands and moist forests of the Malay peninsula in southeast Asia. It uses its dark stripes to blend in with tall grass as it stalks its prey.

Finding Food

With all the abundant grass in grasslands, you might think finding food would be no problem at all. However, grasses are very tough to chew and digest, due to microscopic glass-like shards within grass stalks. These shards are made up of silica, a substance that is indeed found in glass. Grasses provide a challenge for animals to eat, and those animals that do eat grasses need to squeeze every bit of energy out of this tough food.

For example, American bison accomplish this task by using their big, broad teeth, equipped with flat tops that make the teeth great for grinding and mashing grasses. Once the grass is swallowed, the bison's complex, four-chambered ruminant digestive system dissolves the silica and extracts nutrients from the remaining plant material.

Burrows And Nests

Many grassland animals seek shelter and make their homes underground, in a burrow or subterranean nests. Burrows can help small animals seek shelter against grassland fires. Other animals will make nests out of the woven grass itself.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account