nimal plant cards
Their front legs have sharp, clawlike scales and are flattened for digging. The tortoise is able to
live underground (the ground can be 140 degrees and it will be cooler underneather). They
also have a place to store water in the bottom of their shell and can go a year without water.
The tortoise has a “gular horn” that males use for fighting with other males. They make a
hissing sound to ward off predators. If winter rainfall was good then the tortoise eats herbs,
grasses, cacti, and shrubs. If there is no summer rain, they will each dry stored grass. Females
lay eggs near their burrow, but under shrub. The warm weather helps incubate the eggs. The
tortoise has been named a “threatened species” because humans are their greatest reason for
Desert Bighorn Sheep
They live in high elevations. They are excellent climbers and have powerful hind legs for scaling
steep cliffs and two toed hooves with pads on the bottom for good traction. Big Horn sheep
can go for extended periods of time without drinking water. They rely on really good eyesight
to see potential predators (mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats) from a mile away. Then they use
their climbing ability to escape. They use their horns as tools to break open cactus (the eat
this) and also for fighting. They usually eat grasses, but when unavailable they can eat sedges,
forbes, and cacti. They can safely fluctuate (move up/down) their temperature several
degrees. They also rest in caves and shades of trees. To cool themselves they also have
adapted and can perspire and pant. Females are protective of their young for many months.
They find safety in numbers and help each other keep an eye on predators.
Owls are solitary and nocturnal. They have forward facing eyes (better depth perception,
which is needed for low light hunting) and ear holes. The feathers around the ears can form a
disc shape that owls use to sharply focus sounds that come from different distances. They
hunt small mammals, insects, and other birds. Owls can rotate their heads and necks as much
as 270 degrees (a full circle is 360!). The owl counts on stealth (sneaky) and surprise. The
adaptations they have that help with this are dull colors on their feathers (makes them almost
invisible) and the way their wings are shaped, they beat almost silently. Owls use their sharp
beak and talons to kill their prey and then swallow whole. They also use their beak and talons
to scare away predators. Owls typically mate for life and will keep their young with them for
about 2 months. Their young then fly off to other areas.
Black bears are omnivores, and their diets vary greatly depending on the season and location.
They eat grasses, roots, berries, and insects. They also each fish and mammals. They are
extremely adaptable and can live in various habitat types, (usually in forested areas with thick
vegetation and lots of fruits and nuts, but can also live in the tundra and will sometimes forage
in fields and meadows). Bears have short, non-retractable claws that give them an excellent
tree-climbing ability. They often mark trees with their teeth and claws as a form of
communication with other bears. Bears hibernate when winter arrives in dens. They feed on
their body fat they have built up by eating a lot in the summer and fall. Female black bears
give birth to two or three cubs in mid-winter and nurse them in the den until spring when they
leave to look for food. The cubs stay with their very protective mom for about two years.
Swallows have adapted to hunting insects while flying by developing a slender, streamlined
body and long pointed wings allowing them to maneuver and have long endurance, as well as
long periods of gliding. They can eat while flying 30-40 km/hr. Their legs are short and their
feet are adapted for perching rather than walking (their front toes are partially joined at the
base). They migrate during the winter when their insect prey populations go away. Some
species may form large flocks that provide protection from predators. Chicks may remain with
their parents for awhile after the breeding season. Swallows are able to produce many
different calls or songs to express excitement, communicate with others, for courtship, or as
an alarm when a predator is in the area.
The arctic fox has adaptations for cold survival. They have deep, thick fur. They also have a
good supply of body fat. Since they have a small round body, short muzzle and legs, and short,
thick ears, less of its surface is exposed to the arctic cold which means less heat escapes the
body. The arctic fox's thick tail helps its balance on the ice and also is useful as warm cover in
the cold weather. Its furry paws allow it to walk on ice in search of food. The arctic fox has very
good hearing and it can clearly locate the position of prey under the snow. When it finds prey,
it pounces and punches through the snow to catch its victim. The arctic fox also adapts to
different seasons by camouflage; its fur changes color with the seasons. In the winter it is
white to blend in with snow, while in the summer it is brown. Both the mother and the father
help to raise their young. The females leave the family and form their own groups and the
males stay with the family. The kits are initially brownish; as they become older they turn
white. The arctic fox eats any small animal it can find: lemmings, voles, hares, owls, eggs, and
carrion (dead animals). Arctic foxes live in burrows, and in a blizzard they may tunnel into the
snow to create shelter.
Whenever it rains, saguaros soak up the rainwater. The cactus will expand (get bigger), holding
in the rainwater. It conserves the water and slowly consumes it. The Saguaro has a shallow
root system in order to catch moisture. These roots wrap around rocks providing anchorage
from winds. It also has a tap root about 3 feet long to anchor the plant.
Leaf Fan Palm
Wind and rain easily pass through and cool the individual fan-shaped leaves. It will then lose
less water, making it more heat and drought resistant. Another unique adaptation of palm tree
leaves is their shading ability. It shades the trunk and less water evaporates. Trunks have the
ability to store nutrients for periods of drought. Palm trees have large root balls to stabilize
them in the wind. Many soft roots are near the surface of the ground to soak up moisture.
The Arctic Willow has many adaptations to the cold climate in the tundra. When it is in its
strongest growth season it forms a pesticide (poison) to keep insects away. It has also adapted
to the permafrost by growing a shallow root system. The leaves have also adapted to the cold
weather by growing fuzzy hairs.
The Rainforest Canopy
The bark of the canopy is thin and smooth since trees do not have to deal with cold weather.
The smooth bark allows the frequent water to rapidly run off (not drown the tree). The root
system in the canopy trees are shallow since rainforest nutrients exist only in the upper few
inches of soil. They are able to get the majority of the area’s sun and photosynthesize quickly.
The exposed leaves are generally small and waxy to retain water. Sometimes new leaves are
red or white in color warning leaf-eaters of the presence of elements.
The Sequoia trees are in coniferous forests and often cover mountainsides. Trees are tall and
narrow, so snow will slide off the branches without breaking them. The trees grow close
together for protection from the wind. They also have thick bark, which resists damage from
low-heat summer fires. These trees often have shallow roots that spread out widely to take
advantage of the moisture in the upper levels of the ground, which only thaws occasionally.
The roots are also shallow because of the poor soil and rocky conditions.
The shortening days of fall trigger the maple tree to take out chlorophyll from their leaves,
which then allows the tree to show other colors before the leaves are shed and plants enter an
extended period of dormancy. Maple trees lose their leaves in the winter, which cuts down on
water loss and prevents the leaves from icing up and killing the tree. This is a beneficial
adaptation because in the winter, trees have less access to sunlight and water. Trees also
conserve energy during this dormant period since they do not have to protect the leaves from