The environment in which an animal lives (its habitat) must provide water, food, shelter, and space. Its home must also make the animal feel protected from predators, harsh weather, and other threats.
Animal homes come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be found from the deepest depths of the ocean to the very top of a mountain. Some animal homes are easy to see, while others are camouflaged to protect them from predators. The structure of an animal's home depends on the type of animal, the environment it lives in, and what it needs to survive. Some homes are for just one animal or for a mother and her babies. Other homes are for a large group of animals to all live together.
Animal homes serve a variety of purposes. Many animals design their homes to trap heat in and keep the cold out, especially when there are babies living in the home, since baby animals cannot keep themselves warm like their parents can. Nests, dens, and burrows are examples of this type of home.
How to Apply It at Home
If you have a pet, use it as an example to discuss with children what animals need in order to have a home. Talk about an animal's need for shelter and fresh food and water. If you use wood shavings or sawdust as bedding for your pet, discuss how it makes a soft place for him to sleep, keeps him warm, and can be changed to help keep the pet's home clean.
Types of Animal Homes
There are many different types of animal homes. Here are some of the most common ones and the animals that use them.
- Barns and Houses - Domesticated animals are ones that live with humans. You may have a few domesticated animals living with you right now! The most common animals that live in houses are dogs and cats. Some animals that live with humans are too big or too messy to live in a house. Animals like horses, cows, goats, sheep, and pigs can be pets, but they usually live in barns.
- Webs - Spiders spin webs to live in. Webs are also perfect traps for catching insects for spiders to eat.
- Hives - Bees, wasps, and yellow jackets make wax inside their bodies, then they use the wax to build homes called hives. These insects like to live together in huge numbers. A hive makes a good home for a whole colony.
- Caves - Lions, tigers, bears, wolves, and bats make their homes in caves. Caves that make good homes are not just found on dry land. Many animals that live in the water, especially eels, like to live in underwater caves. Some fish and sharks like to find an underwater cave to catch a quick nap in!
- Burrows and Holes - Many animals dig into the ground to make their homes. Foxes, rabbits, prairie dogs, and ants all live underground. Some underground homes are very simple with just one large hole and a single exit while others are quite complex with many rooms, entrances, and exits.
- Shells - Many animals with soft bodies actually carry their homes with them! These homes are called shells and the hard exterior of the shells help protect the animals inside. Most animals such as snails, crabs, and turtles have 'built on' shells. Hermit crabs use old shells from other animals as their homes; they find new shells as they grow.
- Nests - Birds make nests to lay their eggs in. Nests can be built in the branches of a tree or on the ground, and some city birds build their nests in the nooks and crannies of buildings.
- Hollow Logs - Animals that live in the woods, such as bobcats, mink, foxes, otters, skunks, and weasels often like to make their homes in hollow logs.
- Tree Hollows - Squirrels, owls, porcupines, and raccoons all like to make their homes in the hollow (an empty hole in the trunk) of a tree. Even black bears like to live in tree hollows.
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