Being able to adapt is a matter of life or death.  

Animals who can't adapt - die!

For animals, adaptation is the idea that animals have developed features

that help them to survive and thrive where they live.

Some adaptations are purely physical. Fish have fins to help them swim and gills that let them breathe underwater. Without those two special traits, they would have a very hard time surviving in their watery environment. Animals also adapt through certain behaviors. When threatened, a porcupine extends its quills, making it very hard for a fox to eat them.

But we humans kind of cheat -we use technology to adapt to change. We can fit in almost any environment on the planet - from icy cold Antarctica to the bottom of the ocean. We design and build better air conditioners, warmer parkas, better diving suits, and lights to see in the dark. Technology lets us adapt quickly to changes in our environment. However, for other animals, adaptation is a slow, steady process which may take hundreds of thousands of years to accomplish. Some of the changes we humans make can lead to the death of entire species of animals. We can change things so fast that we make it hard for other animals to "fit in". They do not have the time needed to develop sufficient means of adapting to the changed environment.

Let's visit Dirtmeister's and look at a few animals.

Check out these internet sites, read carefully, and see if you can find what special adaptations these animals have. Often asking yourself "where does this animal live?" and "what does it eat?" can lead you to an adaptation.


American Alligator

or visit Nature Works or National Geographic for more info.

Bactrian Camel

1. Camels have many adaptations that allow them to live successfully in desert conditions. How many can you find?

2. Try this Lincoln Park Zoo site for more info.



1.Beavers have many adaptations that help them in their underwater work? How many can you find?

2. Try these other sites for more info - Beaver or Oregon Zoo Beavers.


Burmese Python

or visit Who Zoo for more info.


California King Snake Canada Lynx

Or visit Nature Works for more info.


Cheetah Giant Panda
Giraffe Hippopotamus - Common

1. Hippos have many adaptations for their time spent in the water? How many can you find?

2. Try this Honolulu Zoo site or this WhoZoo site for even more info.


King Vulture

1. Vultures are specially adapted for their jobs as scavengers. How many can you find?

2. Try this Honolulu Zoo site or this WhoZoo site for even more info.



1. Koalas have adapted to their food and to spending a lot of time in trees. How many adaptations can you find?


Lions Mountain Goat

1. Mountain Goats are they adapted for living at the tops of high, cold mountains. How many adaptations can you find?


Musk Ox Opossum

Try this site for more info.


Pacific Walrus

1. The Pacific Walrus is well adapted for living in the cold Arctic. How many adaptations can you find?

Polar Bears

1. Try this Artic Studies site, This National Geographic site, or this Nature Works site for more info.



1. The porcupine has a unique adaptation that you can't miss. What is it? Can you find more?


  Red Panda

1. Try this Zoo site or this BBC site or this Enchanted Learning site for more info.


Sea Otters

1. Sea otters spend almost their entire lives in water. They eat, sleep, and even have their babies in water. What special adaptations do they have that help them do this?


South African Burrowing Bullfrog

1. Try this WhoZoo site for even more info.


Snow leopard

1. Try this site for even more info.


  Squirrel Monkey

1. Try this Oakland Zoo site for more info.


  Wallaroo   White-cheeked Gibbon


  The following sites allow students to use their images for projects.
CC classroom clipart has
CC SB classroom clipart has, type in search box at the very bottom of page
WZ whozoo has
HZ honolulu zoo has
P4L Pics for Learning
BFP Barry's Free Photos
SNZ Smithsonian National Zoo
APA Animal Picture Archive- check copyright info on these
SPFD A Kid's View of Dickerson Park Zoo
WIK Wikimedia
ASBB Animal Scoop - Billy Bear


Online Animal Puzzles
EcoKids - Adaptation Game



the Utah Education Network for the original activity.

Changes have been made to the original to adapt it for our 4th graders.

Thanks to also.