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STEMscopedia: ANIMALS OF

GEORGIA
3L1B

Reflect
Have you ever seen a bird make a nest? Have you ever seen a
beaver tear down a tree in order to make a lodge? These are some
examples of how animals use their bodies to survive in their habitat.
Trees, like those shown to the right, are often the habitat of birds and
squirrels. Can you think of other kinds of habitats and the kinds of
animals that live in them?
habitat: geographical region or natural home inhabited by particular
animals and plants

Animal Survival
Animals have different needs for surviving in their individual habitats, including food,
water, air, protection, and shelter. Different animals meet these needs in unique ways.

Some animals use camouflage to meet their basic need for protection. By blending
into their environment, animals can avoid predators. Camouflage also helps predators
who wait for the right time to attack their prey.
Some animals survive by migrating during certain
seasons of the year. Birds are a great example of this.
Many species of birds eat insects and nectar from
plants. When it gets cold during the winter, there are
fewer insects for the birds to eat. Because of this, many
birds fly south in the winter. Southern places tend to be
warmer in the winter time than northern places. This
means that there are more insects available for the
birds to eat.
Not all birds fly south in the winter. Some birds, like eagles and falcons, are meat
eaters. As long as their food source doesn’t disappear in the winter, they will not have
to migrate. Other animals migrate at certain times of the year, like elk, whales, and
dolphins.
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STEMscopedia: ANIMALS OF
GEORGIA
Look Out

Animals need certain features, or body parts, in order to survive in their environments. These
features are called adaptations. For example, a fish has fins and gills that help it survive in water.
This means that a fish is adapted to survive in water. If a fish were to be taken out of water and put
on land, it wouldn’t have the necessary features to survive on land. The fish would need to be put
back into the water in order to survive.

Georgia Animals
The American alligator, the Georgia state reptile, has adapted well to
marsh and swamp habitats. It prefers freshwater and brackish (mix of
salt and freshwater) areas. Alligators have large tails used for propelling
them through the water. Their dark black color allows them to blend in
with the dark, muddy waters of a marsh or swamp. The alligator has a
flat body with a nose and eyes that stick above the water, so it can move
in the shallow waters of marshes and swamps.

Herons are birds adapted to marshes, lakes, rivers, bays, beaches,


mangroves, and other wetlands in Georgia. They have long wings and legs
perfect for wading in water. They use their long, pointed bills to catch fish,
insects, reptiles, and small mammals that also live in the wetland.

The brown thrasher is the Georgia state bird. This large songbird has a brown
speckled chest and short wings suited for hopping from bush to bush in search
of insects or berries to eat. The brown thrasher is found in forest edges, the
Piedmont region, and the coastal plains where shrubs are common.

Try Now

Which habitat would you choose for the gopher tortoise? The
gopher tortoise is a reptile that burrows deep into the sandy soil
using its wide, flat claws. It eats primarily plants and herbs that
grow low to the ground. It also requires a lot of sunlight. It cannot
live in a thick forest. Which habitat would meet its requirements:
mountain, Piedmont, coastal plains, swamp, or ocean? Why?

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STEMscopedia: ANIMALS OF
GEORGIA
The right whale is the state marine animal that lives in the Atlantic
Ocean. These whales need the warm shallow waters of the Atlantic
Ocean off the Georgia coast for giving birth to their calves. Right
whales can get as large as 18 meters (60 feet) in length. They feed
on krill, zooplankton, small crustaceans, and other ocean creatures
that can filter into their mouth.

Right whales have adapted to cold water farther north by regulating


heat loss. They have a very thick blubber layer (up to one and a half
feet in depth) that keeps the heat in and prevents it from escaping to the outside. In addition, the
right whale’s body is relatively compact.

With less surface area, more heat can be kept inside. Furthermore, whales also have slow
breathing rates, which adds to their ability to maintain body heat without expelling it (via warmed air)
to the environment. When they are in the warm Georgia calving waters, the right whales get rid of
excess heat by releasing it through the blood vessels close to the surface of their skin.

The white-tailed deer is a mammal that lives in many habitats in Georgia. Its
hooves allow it to walk along rocky terrain, and its fur helps to keep it warm
in the winter months. The deer has a unique digestive system that allows it to
eat many different kinds of foods like woody plants that other animals cannot
digest. They typically live in heavily wooded areas, but that is changing as
humans develop the land in many deer habitats.

Animals that have adapted to the sandy soil, trees, and shrubs of the Coastal Plains region are the
ghost crab, water moccasin, and the green tree frog, the state amphibian.

Ghost crab Water Moccasin Green tree frog State Amphibian


Black bears have thick fur to live in cold mountains. They have also adapted
to the Piedmont, coastal plains, and swamps that offer a plentiful supply of
natural foods and trees and thickets that they can escape to for security.
Bears are considered omnivorous (they eat the plant or animal food that
is available). The majority of their natural diet consists of berries, fruits,
acorns, grasses, and animal matter including insects and mammals, even
deer. During the winter, these food sources may become scarce. A bear’s
response to colder winter weather and the lower food supply is to go to sleep,
or hibernate, for a period of time. Bears will go through a period of dormancy
where females give birth to their young during the winter months in a den or
cave.

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STEMscopedia: ANIMALS OF
GEORGIA
What Do You Think?
Read the special features of the animals listed below the map. These features help
the animal survive in a particular habitat. In each blank, write the numbers 1–5 of the
habitat on the map that matches the animal best suited for that habitat.

___flat body with eyes and nose above the water (American alligator)

___needs warm saltwater for giving birth to calves (right whales)

___has long legs for wading in water and a long bill for catching fish (heron)

___has strong legs for climbing up steep slopes (bear)

___has strong teeth for chewing through grass and berries (deer)

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STEMscopedia: ANIMALS OF
GEORGIA
Connecting With Your Child
Creature Feature Poster Along the coastal plains, animals must
To help your child understand how survive in forests, shrubs, grasslands,
animals have developed features that sandy soil with saltwater winds, and
allow them to survive in the different warmer temperatures.
habitats of Georgia, have your child make
a special poster called “Creature Feature” The Atlantic Ocean habitat is warm
to share with classmates. saltwater with marine creatures, reefs,
and waves.
Your child should choose a favorite
animal from Georgia that interests him or Your child can also use the Internet with
her the most. Visit the school library or your help to gather information on the
public library to gather books and other animal.
print material on the chosen animal.
Be sure to get books with pictures and After finding out which special features
illustrations that show the animal living in allow that animal to live in one or more of
its habitat. the major habitats, have your child draw
and color the animal on the poster living
Georgia has five habitats: mountains, in its habitat. Written descriptions can be
Piedmont, coastal plains, swamps/ glued on around the picture.
marshes, and ocean.
Here are some questions to discuss with
Animals adapted to a mountain your child:
habitat must be able to withstand cold 1. How has the animal adapted to this
temperatures, rocky terrain, and forest habitat?
trees. 2. Why do you think the animal does well
in this habitat?
Those organisms living in the Piedmont 3. Could the animal live in a different
must also be adapted to forests, shrubs, habitat? Why? Why not?
milder temperatures, and red clay soil. 4. Is the animal on the “endangered” list
to be protected?
Those animals adapted to swamps
and marshes must survive in brackish,
shallow-water wetlands with warmer
temperatures.

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