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.

Animals mostly know how to build their homes from instinct. They make use of natural materials such as sticks, grass, dirt, mud, and wood. They also use materials made inside their own bodies such as silk and beeswax.

Some animals such as beavers build their own homes. Some animals such as woodpeckers live in homes built by other animals. Shelled animals like turtles carry their homes with them.

Animals may live in large colonies, in small family groups, or alone. Humans also live in extended groups and many different kinds of family arrangements.

A habitat is an animal's natural home such as the ocean (like a shark), a tree (like a squirrel), a rose bush (like an aphid), or a tropical rainforest jungle (like a tiger). The one factor that determines whether or not a place can be a habitat is the presence of green plants. When you think about it, all animals depend on green plants for food because only green plants can make their own food. They use sunshine, water, and nutrients from the soil to provide themselves with nourishment. The process is called photosynthesis. Some animals eat green plants, some animals eat animals that eat green plants, and some animals eat both. Wherever green plants grow, some kind of animal can live. There are animals in deserts, oceans, forests, rainforest, tundra. Every animal is suited or adapted to the place where it lives. Animals and their homes and habitats fit together like the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle.

In order to keep a healthy diversity of animals on the planet, we need to understand the interdependence of plants, animals, and their homes and habitats. All plants and animals--including humans--need to exist together in a finely tuned balance.

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