Grassland Animals: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Inocente
There is a place where large animals walk around all day grazing on grass. In this lesson you will learn about the animals of the grasslands and what allows them to survive and thrive in this vast open space.

The Grassland Environment

Grassland
Grassland

Grasslands are areas that have mainly grass as the vegetation, and where flat land or rolling hills dominate the landscape. Grasslands occur on every continent other than Antarctica and can have small shrubs, woody plants, or trees. They have temperate or tropical climate, meaning they are warm or hot for most of the year.

The Animals of the Grasslands

Grassland Animals
Grassland Animal Collage

These grassland environments don't have many trees or heavy bushes to hide many creatures. However, they can support small animals along with large grazing animals and their predators. You may have seen many of these animals at a zoo or on television. Elephants, bison, cheetahs, gazelles, lions, and tigers, are some of the large animals that live in grasslands. Rabbits, gophers, prairie dogs, and many bird, lizard, and snake species are some of the small animals that live there as well.

Grassland Animals Survival Tools

Speed and Hunting

Due to the wide open spaces, many of the grassland predators and prey are very fast. They do not have the worry of running around trees and dense vegetation like forest animals do. Cheetahs can run up to 65 miles per hour! Imagine a cheetah running next to your car going 65 miles an hour. These animals of the grasslands also have speedy hunting escapades. Gazelles can reach 40 miles per hour and must outrun their speediest predator, the Cheetah. Coyotes swiftly chase down rabbits and mice through the grasslands for a meal. The abundance of small speedy rodent animals such as mice also allows predators like owls to hunt in this environment.

Nesting and Burrowing

Without trees for protection from weather, temperatures, and predators, many grassland animals have front legs and paws that allow them to dig burrows and tunnels very easily.

Prairie dog pups above ground alongside a gopher resting in a tunnel
Prairie Dog and Gopher Tunnel

A burrow is a hole or tunnel dug into the ground to create a home for a small rodent animal. Some animals, such as prairie dogs, create underground tunnel systems with multiple entrances and exits. Gophers and thirteen-lined ground squirrels also create burrows for living and nesting. Grassland animals don't have trees to build their nests in so some make them in grass vegetation on the ground if they do not nest in burrows. Prairie chickens, grasshoppers, and prairie king snakes all lay eggs in the vegetation on the ground.

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