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Topic – Animal Adaptations

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Read the Following Selection

Read about animal adaptations, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Animal Adaptations

Over very long periods of time—thousands or millions of years—animals can change so that they are better able to survive. These changes are called adaptations.

Feathers Are Not Just for Flying

The feathers you find on birds’ wings help them to fly. But birds have feathers all over their body, so what are these feathers for? Feathers help to keep birds warm. Without feathers, birds might die if the weather gets too cold. Over time, birds developed feathers as an adaptation that helped them to survive in habitats where the weather gets cold.

Reach for the Top

Humans do not have a long neck. Our neck helps us turn our head left and right and up and down—we do not need a long neck to do that. Now think of a giraffe’s neck. Why would a giraffe need such a long neck?

Giraffes feed on leaves that grow on tall trees. If a giraffe could reach only the lowest leaves on a tree, it might have trouble finding enough food to survive.
But with such a long neck, a giraffe can reach even the leaves that grow near the top of a tree. The giraffe’s long neck is an adaptation that helps it to survive.

The Tale of a Tail

Beavers are famous for their wide, flat tails.
This adaptation helps beavers in several ways.

The shape of beavers’ tails helps them steer in the water. But that is not all their tails do. Beavers’ tails help them balance when moving a heavy branch to build a home.

Their tails are also alarms. They slap their tails on the water to warn others that danger is near.

Open Wide…Very Wide!

How can a snake swallow an animal bigger than its own head? This adaptation lets snakes hunt larger animals, making it easier for snakes to survive.

A snake’s jaws work differently than human jaws. A snake’s top and bottom jaws can spread wide apart. This lets the mouth stretch to swallow a nice, big meal.

Snakes have another adaptation that helps them swallow food. Their teeth point to the back of their mouths. This means that a meal will not get stuck on the teeth as the snake swallows it. It also means a meal will not be able to escape once it is caught.


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