Animal adaptations are the ways in which an animal has developed characteristics to help them survive in their environment. Over a long period of time, features develop that are suited to the animal’s habitat.
For example, there are many different kinds of beaks, depending on where birds live and what they eat. Hummingbirds have long, thin beaks to collect nectar from flowers, while owls have a hooked beak to tear the flesh of their prey.
Teach your children about animal adaptations using our handy topic guide!
- Compare animals from two very different environments in this useful activity.
- Challenge your children to match the animals to their adaptations.
- Use some of the ideas from this huge activity pack on adaptations in the rainforest.
- Explore a local habitat and discuss how changes to the environment will impact on animal adaptation in this lesson plan from Sustainable Learning.
- Use Where the Wild Things are to encourage your children to investigate adaptations, with this lesson plan.
- Investigate animal’s ears, by making yourself a new pair!
- Check out our Habitats Pack, which includes information and activities on adaptation.
Animal Adaptations Facts
- Adaption is the process by which animals develop characteristics that are suited to life in their environment. These can be physical (a part of the body changes) or behavioural (the animal’s behaviour changes).
- Bactrian camels are adapted to live in the desert; their long eyelashes protect their eyes, their think woolly coat keeps them warm during the cold desert nights, and they can store fat in their humps for energy when there is nothing to eat.
- A walrus can slow its heart down when in very cold water.
- Carpenter ants can use the moon as a guide when moving around at night.
- Adaptations take a long time to develop, sometimes as long as a million years, because they develop over generations through the process of evolution.
How animals adapt to their environment
Find out about adaptations with Abdul the camel.
Running time: 2:44
A brief overview of the adaptations of camels, giraffes and penguins.
Running time: 2:20
Polar Bear Adaptations
Find out how polar bears are adapted to life in the arctic.
Running time: 3:10
Adaptation in animals
This video gives examples of adaptation in salamanders, foxes, cuttlefish and seahorses.
Running time: 5:34
Animals in Winter
This song will help children learn about migration and hibernation.
Running time: 4:58
Are you teaching your children about other topics? Explore our full collection of guides!