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Why do animals live where they do?

What is an animal home? What do all living things need to survive?
 Forest and Woodland Habitat Desert Habitat Grassland Habitat
Arctic Tundra Water Habitat  Human Habitat
Food Chains Camouflage Adaptation

All living things have adapted to live in their environment


What is a home?

A home is a safe place to live. Homes shelter animals from the weather, protect them from predators or enemies, provide them with a safe place to bear and raise their young, and sometimes even provide a place to store food. Homes serve these same purposes for human beings.

An animal's living place is called its habitat.

Different plants and animals require different living conditions to thrive, eg. goldfish need freshwater while whales, sea water.

Animals and plants are adapted to the conditions of the habitats in which they live. Most animals are only adapted to live in one or two habitats. A walrus could not live in a desert. A rattlesnake could not live for very long in the arctic.

Quick Facts:
A habitat is a place where a plant or animal lives (Its address!).
Different animals and plants are found in different habitats.
Habitats can be big - a forest - or small - a leaf.

What do all living things need to survive?

All living things need food, water, air, shelter (cover) and space to survive.

 Shelter  Protection from predators or weather.
 Air Oxygen either from the air or dissolved in water is required for respiration.
 Water  All living things require liquid water.
 Food  All living things need food (for energy) to grow and reproduce. Some organisms (such as plants) make their own food from air, water, and sunlight. Other organisms must eat plants or other living things to get their energy.
 Space Animals require different amounts of space to find food, water, shelter and a mate. Some animals defend a large territory or roam over a large range. Other animals only need a small amount of space and can tolerate close neighbours.


Arctic Tundra


Food Chains



Camouflage and Habitats

General Sites

Habitat Game
Learn about which creatures live in which habitat and why through this interactive game.

School habitat site that offers six different habitats including
house, farms, ponds, seas, and a hedge!

Grassland Explorer
See how many mini beasts you can find

The wonderful world of insects
Information on insects, including ants as record breakers

The incredible world of mammals

Insect insights
Fascinating facts and close-up photographs of insect eyes and legs

All about beetles, grasshoppers, ladybirds, moths, butterflies, wasps and many more

The Forest and Woodland Habitats 

Forest Habitat
(rain forest, temperate forest, chaparral, and taiga)

A type of habitat that covers a large area where many trees, plants, and animals live.

Forest plants provide shade and protection for many different types of animals.

Woodlands Explorer
This site looks at tree parts and the organisms that live in and around trees.

A chaparral is a shrubby coastal area that has hot dry summers and mild, cool, rainy winters.

Deciduous forests

Forests in cool, rainy areas. They can be found in the eastern half of North America, and the middle of Europe. The word "deciduous" means exactly what the leaves on these trees do: change colour in autumn, fall off in the winter, and grow back again in the spring. This adaptation helps trees in the forest survive winter.

Why do deciduous trees lose their leaves?

In the winter, less water is available for trees to take in through their roots, because much of the water in the ground is frozen. Since trees lose water through their leaves, losing leaves is a way for a tree to conserve water.

What does trees losing leaves mean to animals?

Animals will have less cover to hide themselves from predators.

How do animals survive in this habitat?

Animals living in this habitat must adjust to cold winters and hot summers by hibernating, migrating, or keeping active all winter. The trees provide shelter for them. Animal use the trees for food and a water sources. Most of the animals are camouflaged to look like the ground.

Examples of animals living in this habitat

Bank Vole
Black Bear
Grey Squirrel
White-tailed Deer
Wild Boar
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Rat Snake
Spring Peeper


Temperate Deciduous Forest

Coniferous Forests (Taiga)
This habitat can be found in Canada, Europe and Asia.

The northern coniferous forests are called taiga (Russian for swamp forest) or boreal forests.

The taiga is the largest type of habitat (biome) in the world. Winters are very cold. Summers are warm because the taiga is near the top of the world. Lots of conifers (evergreen trees with needles) grow here.

How do animals survive in this habitat?

The taiga has fewer animal species than the tropical or temperate deciduous forests. Many of the animals do not live in the taiga the entire year. Snow, cold, and a scarcity of food make life very difficult, especially in the winter. Some taiga animals and birds migrate south, in the winter, where it is warmer, others go into hibernation, while others simply cope with the environment. Only a few amphibians and reptiles can survive the cold winter.

How have trees adapted to survive the many fires?

The taiga is prone to wildfires. Many trees have adapted to this by growing thick bark, which can protect a tree from a mild fire.

Examples of animals living in this habitat

Eurasian Beaver
European Red Squirrel
Snowshoe Rabbit
Bohemian Waxwing
Hawk Owl
Pine Grosbeak
Red-Throated Loon

Taiga or Coniferous Forest

Taiga Biological Station -
"What is the taiga?" contains a taiga food web at the bottom of the page.

Rain Forests

Tropical rain forests occur in regions near the equator. The climate is always warm (between 20° and 25° C) with plenty of rainfall (at least 190 cm/year). While some animals live on the ground, most rain forest animals live in the trees. Many of these animals spend their entire life in the forest canopy. Insects are so abundant in tropical rain forests that the majority have not yet been identified.
Find out more about Rain Forests...

The Desert Habitat 
Quick Fact: There are cold deserts as well as hot deserts. Cold deserts are in places like Antarctica and Greenland.

Desert Habitat

Desert covers more than one-third of the world's land and are very hot and dry or cold. Deserts are characterized by dry conditions (usually less than 10 inches per year; 25 cm) and a wide temperature range. The dry air leads to wide daily temperature fluctuations from freezing at night to over 120 degrees during the day.

A Desert is defined as a region that has less than 254 mm (10 inches) of annual rainfall or precipitation.

Hot and Dry Deserts
Most Hot and Dry Deserts are near the Tropic of Cancer or the Tropic of Capricorn.
Hot and Dry Deserts temperature ranges from 20 to 25° C.

Cold Desserts
Cold Deserts are near the Arctic part of the world. A cold desert is a desert that has snow in the winter. Cold Deserts temperature in winter ranges from -2 to 4° C and in the summer 21 to 26° C a year

Desert animals have many adaptations as well to help them survive in the desert climate. Many are nocturnal, meaning active during the cool night rather than the hot daylight hours. Some examples of these animals are Borrowers, Mourning Wheatears, and Horned Vipers. There are also insects, arachnids, reptiles, and birds.

Cold Deserts have animals like Antelope, Ground Squirrels, Jack Rabbits, and Kangaroo Rats.
(Read more about how animals and plants survive in the desert)

World's Largest Deserts
Desert Location Square Miles Square Kilometers
Sahara North Africa 3,500,000 9,065,000
Gobi Mongolia-China 500,000 1,295,000
Kalahari Southern Africa 225,000 582,000
Great Victoria Australia 150,000 338,500
Great Sandy Australia 150,000 338,500

Excellent page with information about desert habitats and a picture dictionary of
animals found in deserts.

Animals living in a desert

Another excellent page to help you with your homework.

See a map showing deserts around the world.

Desert Life
In the American Southwest

Deserts of the World
Information for 24 of the world's deserts.

Homework Help is part of the Woodlands Junior School Kent website

The Water Habitat  (Freshwater and Marine)
Quick Fact: Ecosystems vary in size. They can be as small as a puddle or as large as the Earth itself.
Pond Habitat

Pond Explorer
Go on a virtual Pond Dip!

Includes a picture dictionary

Marine Habitat
Under the Sea
Find out about the animals which live under the sea.

The Grassland Habitat 
Quick Fact: Grasslands are found on every continent except Antarctica.

Grassland Habitat

What are Grasslands?

They are big open spaces of grass.

Where are Grasslands found?

They are found on either side of two desert belts that circle the earth in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

How much of the earth is grassland?

About one quarter of the earth's land is in the grasslands.

What are the two different types of Grassland?

  • Tropical grasslands -- those closest to the equator -- are hot all year.
  • Temperate grasslands are farther from the equator -- such as the U.S. prairies -- and have both hot summers and harsh winters.

What animals live in Grasslands?

Grasslands lack the trees and heavy bush to hide many creatures. Because of the open landscape and the widely spaced trees, grasslands are home to large herds of grazing mammals such as the zebra and bison.

African Elephant
Black Rhinoceros

Black-footed Ferret



Greater Prairie Chicken

Prairie Dog

A typical food chain in a grassland:

grass (producer)
mouse (primary consumer)
snake (secondary consumer)
hawk (tertiary consumer).

Quick Fact: Grasslands receive about 10 to 30 inches of rain per year. If they received more rain, the grasslands would become a forest. If they received less, they would become a desert. Grasslands are often located between deserts and forests.

Find out about animals that live in a grassland habitat.
Many animals live in grasslands, from invertebrates (like grasshoppers and beetles) to large mammals (like antelopes and bison).

Quick Fact: Throughout the world, grasslands are known by many different names. In North America they are known as "prairie", in Asia "steppe", in South America the "pampas" and in South Africa a "veldt".

The Artic (Tundra) Habitat 
Quick Fact: There are two types of tundras, Arctic tundras and alpine tundras.

Tundra (Artic) Habitat

Where is the Tundra Habitat?

The tundra habitat is at the top of the world, near the North Pole.

How much of the earth is Tundra?

About one fifth of the earth's land is Tundra

What is the ground like?

The ground is permanently frozen 10 inches to 3 feet (25 to 100 cm) down so that trees can't grow there

How do plants grow on the solid ground?

The bare and sometimes rocky ground can only support low growing plants like mosses, heaths, and lichen. During the brief summers, the top section of the soil may thaw out allowing plants and microorganisms to grow and reproduce. However, these plants and microorganisms become dormant during the cold winter months.

Is there another type of Tundra other than artic tundra?

Yes, it is called alpine tundra and is found on the tops of tall, cold mountains.

How do animals survive in this habitat?

Animals are adapted to handle cold winters and to breed and raise young quickly in the very short and cool summers. Find out more....

What living things are found in the Tundra?

Herbivorous mammals: lemmings, voles, caribou, arctic hares and squirrels

Carnivorous mammals: arctic foxes, wolves, and polar bears

Migratory birds: ravens, snow buntings, falcons, loons, ravens, sandpipers, terns, snow birds, and various species of gulls

Insects: mosquitoes, flies, moths, grasshoppers, blackflies and arctic bumble bees

Fish: cod, flatfish, salmon, and trout

Animals living in the Tundra

Excellent page with information about tundra habitats and a picture dictionary of
animals found in tundras.

Tundra: The Not-So Barren Land

The Great Arctic Tundra
Home of producers, consumers, and predators. See a picture of a food web drawn by a student.

Polar Bears
Information and lovely photos.

Polar Bears
Information and picture to colour!

Polar Bear Template

Polar Bears
A good picture to print and use for your homework.

Think about it!
Why are polar bears white?
Why do they have such thick fir?
What do they eat?
Find out more

If a polar bear lived in a desert:

  • What colour would the polar bear be so it was camouflage?
  • Would it still have thick fir?
  • What would it eat?

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Quick Fact: Camouflage is used to help animals attack their prey as well as defend themselves from predators.


Camouflage is important for animal survival.
Animals and people hide things for various reasons. Animals in nature hide their young to protect them from predators. Pirates hide stolen treasure to protect it from being stolen yet again.

Animals which use colour to blend in with their habitat so that they're almost invisible.
Chameleons, hares, tree frogs, flounder fish, grasshoppers, and lizards.

Animals which use a combination of colour, shape and behavior to help them appear like something in their habitat.
Stick Insects

Animals which have special markings that help to disguise their shapes.

BBC - Walking with Beasts- Camouflage game
Learn about camouflage as you play this game.

Can you find the animal in these pictures? (
You need to scroll down the page)

Camouflaged Animals Colouring/Info Pages - AllAboutNature.com

Howstuffworks "How Animal Camouflage Works"
Information and photos

Quick Fact: Biomes are regions in the world with similar climate (weather, temperature) and vegetation (plants).

Terrestrial Biomes: tundra, grassland, desert, taiga, temperate forest, tropical forest.
Aquatic Biomes:
marine, freshwater.

The Human Habitat 

Human Habitat

Find out about houses

Questions to think about
What animals (pets) do you have in your habitat (house)?
What animals and birds visit your habitat (garden)? Remember to mention any that live under the ground too!
What insects visit the plants?
Name some plants in your garden?
How can you attract more birds to your garden?
How can you attract a hedgehog?
How can you attract more butterflies?

Ideal Habitat for humans
Remember all living things need food, water, air, shelter (cover) and space to survive. That means humans too!

Can you think of an ideal place for us and say why you think it is good?
Remember we need:

We need to live somewhere where we can get food? We need to live near shops.

We need to live somewhere where we can get water? We need to be able to get water from a tap or a well.

We need oxygen so we can't live anywhere where there is no oxygen. We can't live on the moon.

We need protection from weather, animals and people who may harm us.
How can we do this?
A house is ideal because it has a roof to stop the rain getting in, walls to keep the cold out, heaters to keep us warm and doors to keep people and animals out. We also have a fence around our garden to keep out some animals and people.

If we live somewhere where there are many people but not enough shops, the shops may run out of food!

Draw a map of part of your garden?
What animals live in your garden?
Birds - Can you find a nest? Do you have a bird table? Can you see one in a tree or on the ground?
Worms - They live in the soil .
Insects - Are there any around the plants? Can you spot a bee?
Are there any insects living under a rock or log?
Moles - Can you spot a mole hill?
Cats .

School habitat site that offers six different habitats including house, farms, ponds, seas, and a hedge!

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author Mandy Barrow.

©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.