Animal Adaptation Interactive Notes

Animal Needs
What are the basic needs of animals?
All animals need food, water, shelter, and space. If they don’t have enough food or
water, they won’t survive.
An animal needs shelter to protect itself and its young. There are many kinds of
shelters. Animals will adapt to defend themselves, their shelter, and their young in different
All animals need a certain amount of space to live. If an area is crowded, animals will
have trouble meeting their basic life needs.
Animal Adaptations
What is an adaptation?
An adaptation is a special characteristic that enables an animal to survive in its habitat.
A habitat is an animal’s home area or environment. We say that an animal is adapted to its
habitat when it can successfully meet its needs in the place where it lives. If the animal has
adapted, it will survive and reproduce young with the same traits.
What are physical adaptations?
Physical adaptations are special characteristics of the animal’s body that help it survive in
its environment. These traits make it easier for an animal to get food, make a shelter, find a
mate, or escape from danger. If a body characteristic helps an animal or gives it an
advantage over others, it is a physical adaptation.
Any special body part or physical characteristic can be an adaptation. Different types of
claws, tails, teeth, skin, and feet help various animals meet their needs successfully. Some
animals have special body parts like fins, wings, and shells. Even things like venom, body
markings, and an animal’s ability to run fast are physical adaptations.
Special Physical Adaptations
What is mimicry?
Mimicry is a special type of physical adaptation. Mimicry is when an animal looks, smells, or
sounds like another creature in order to survive. Animal copycats mimic dangerous,
poisonous, or bad-tasting animals. Other creatures leave both animals alone – the real
danger and the copycat!
What is camouflage?
Camouflage is another special type of physical adaptation. When an animal blends into its
surroundings and is hard to see, that animal is camouflaged. Predators can’t see a hidden
animal. Camouflage also helps hunters hide and surprise their prey. An animal’s color,
size, shape or markings can camouflage it.
Behavioral Adaptations
Behavioral adaptations are things that an animal does that help it meet its basic life needs.
Bees build hives, wolves hunt in groups or packs, and birds sing songs to warn others of
danger. These behaviors help each type of animal survive.
Instinct and Learned Behavior
There are two different types of behavioral adaptations: instinct and learned behavior.
When an animal is born knowing how to behave or do something, this is called instinct.
Spiders automatically know how to build webs and geese know when to fly south in winter by
instinct. On the other hand, some animals do things they learn from their parents. For
instance, a lion must teach its cub to hunt. In this case hunting is a learned behavior, not an
Special Behavioral Adaptations
What is migration?
Migration is when an animal travels to find food and to survive as the seasons change in
their environment. Many animals migrate before winter to a warmer place where they can
easily find food. They return to their homes in the spring. Migration is a behavioral
adaptation, something animals do by instinct. Animals follow the same route on the same
schedule each year.
What is hibernation?
Some animals hibernate or sleep through the cold winter. Hibernating animals find or build a
warm, safe shelter. They may gather and store food to eat in winter. Like migration,
hibernation is a behavioral adaptation. By instinct, animals know when winter is coming and
it’s time to hibernate.
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