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Animal Adaptations Topic Guide

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!

Choose a section:
Teaching Ideas | Resources | Facts | Videos | Books | Links

Teaching Ideas

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Resources

The Habitats Pack

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.

Videos

How animals adapt to their environment

Find out about adaptations with Abdul the camel.

Running time: 2:44

Animal Adaptations

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

Books

Where The Wild Things Are

Exploring the Wild Things in this classic picture book is a great way to encourage children to look for adaptations.

Creature Features

This colourful book groups animals by characteristics such as fur and beaks, perfect for starting discussions about adaptations.

Wild Animals of the North

A beautifully illustrated book with facts about northern animals.

What do You do With a Tail Like This?

An award winning book that encourages children to discuss animal features and adaptations.

Feathers and Hair, What Animals Wear

Younger readers will enjoy this book that explores the animals’ appearance.

The Animal Book

A comprehensive visual guide to the animals of the world.

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