All animals live in habitats. Habitats provide food, water, and shelter which animals need to survive, but there is more to survival than just the habitat. Animals also depend on their physical features and their behaviors to help them be successful in their natural habitats.
Physical, bodily features that help animals survive are called physical adaptations. Physical adaptations do not develop during an individual animal's life, but over many generations. The shape of a bird's beak, the color of a mammal’s fur, the thickness or thinness of the fur, the shape of the nose or ears are all examples of physical adaptations which help different animals survive.
Animals also have behavioral adaptations that have to do with their actions. Like physical adaptations, behavioral adaptations help an animal survive and flourish in its habitat.
Animals adapt for many different reasons:
- to find food
- to adjust their bodies to the temperature of their environment
- to defend themselves
- to find a mate
- to escape from predators and other dangers
- to adjust for the loss of their habitat
If animals do not develop physical or behavioral adaptations that help them survive in their habitats, they die or become extinct. An animal’s habitat sometimes changes due to climate fluctuations or the influence of humans. When animals cannot adapt to the changes in their environments, they can become extinct.