Adaptation in Animals - Orchids
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Concept: Adaptation in Animals

What is Adaptation?

It is the physical or behavioural feature of an animal, bird and insect that enables it to survive better in its habitat.

Why is adaptation needed?

All animals, birds and insects require adaptation as they live and grow in different habitats. Some animals live in water, some in the deserts, some in the polar regions, some in the savannas, some in the forests and many more. Adaptation makes their survival easier in their surroundings.

Types of adaptation:

Adaptation in animals can be categorised into two types—

  • Structural adaptation: In structural adaptation, animals show various physical adaptive features that help them survive in their natural habitat.
  • Behavioural adaptation: This type of adaptation is related to specific behavioural changes that animals undergo for their survival.

Structural adaptation of animals in different habitats:

1. Polar region :

  • Animals living in the polar region have a thick layer of fat inside their body.
  • It acts as an insulator and keeps them warm in a freezing environment.
  • Some of these animals also have a thick coat of fur to protect themselves against the cold.
  • Walruses have tusks for hauling on the ice.
  • Penguins have flippers for swimming.

2. Burrows:

  • Mostly rats, woodchucks and rabbits live in burrows.
  • Rabbits have large ears that help them to hear and avoid danger.
  • Woodchucks sleep throughout the winter.
  • It is a behavioural adaptation that is called hibernation.
  • Sloth bears also hibernate in the winter.

3. Deep Sea:

  • Fish, dolphins and whales live in the deep sea.
  • All fishes have a unique body structure that helps them swim.
  • Both dolphins and whales have blowholes at the top of their head that help them breathe.
  • Octopus is also a sea-animal, and they have special ink-glands in their body. These glands release a dark-coloured fluid with a jet stream of water to confuse their predators.

4. Desert:

  • Animals living in the desert have long eyelashes, hairy eyes and closing nostrils to prevent the entry of sand.
  • They have wide feet to move firmly on the sand.
  • They also have a thick coat of fur that keeps them warm at night.
  • These animals have humps at their back for storing food.
  • They can go on without water for a long time as they drink a large quantity of water at one go.
  • Rattlesnakes are also desert animals.
  • They are cold-blooded, and it helps them stay cool in scorching weather in the desert.
  • They also have heat-sensing spots that allow them to detect warm-blooded prey in the desert.

5. Forest:

  • Animals that live in the forest can camouflage with their surroundings.
  • Zebra, deer, cheetah, jaguar, tiger have different body stripes that help them camouflage with their surroundings so that neither the preys nor the predators can recognise them.
  • Kangaroos have muscular tails that help them maintain their balance and strong hind legs that help in hopping.

6. Savanna:

  • Savanna animals migrate to other places for food and water during the dry season.
  • However, some of them opt for hibernation to reduce the need for food and water.
  • Grazing animals camouflage themselves in the long grasses to protect themselves against predators.
  • Giraffes also live in the savannas. They have very long necks that allow them to reach the trees for food.

Birds and their beaks:

Birds too have special beaks on the basis of the food they eat. It is also a type of structural adaptation.

Birds Food Types of beaks
Seeds and grains. Short, rounded and cone-shaped.
Animals like rats, snakes. Hooked.
Snails, weeds, insects, worms. Flat and square.
Fish. Long, flat and pouch-like.
Flower nectar. Long and tubular.

Behavioural adaptation of animals:

  1. Play dead :
    • Opossums confuse their predators by acting as dead animals.
  2. Bird migration :
    • Have you ever seen a flock of birds going from one place to another place? It is called bird migration.
    • Have you ever seen a flock of birds going from one place to another place? It is called bird migration.
    • This type of migration is also a behavioural adaptation.
  3. Hibernation :
    • Animals that live in the burrows, sloth bears, squirrels, woodchucks sleep through the whole winter.
    • They do not come out of the burrow during this period and show less or sometimes no physical activities.
    • Their heart rate and breathing rate slow down.
  4. Nocturnal adaptation :
    • Bats sleep throughout the day and remain active at night. It is a behavioural adaptation that enables them to hide from predators.
  5. Mimicry :
    • Some animals' appearance mimics a non-living object, or they look like a harmful or distasteful animal that predators usually avoid. This adaptation is called mimicry.
    • Some butterflies have big spots that resemble the eyes of an owl.
    • The hawk moth looks just like a shabby dead leaf.

New Words:

Flipper: Flattened limbs that help in swimming.

Camouflage: An adaptation that allows animals to blend with their surroundings.

Savanna: A grassy plain with very few trees.

Insulator: A material that does not allow the passage of heat.

Hump: It is a large lump present on the back of camels.

Did You Know?

  • Camels have a leathery mouth that enables them to eat spiny bushy plants in the desert.
  • Penguins also have webbed feet for swimming.
  • Chameleons change their skin colour for camouflage.
  • A blowfish puffs up its body size to a large extent to scare off the predators.
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