A habitat is the place where animals and plants live and grow. You live in a habitat too. A habitat is not just your home, but the area your home is in. The busy city is a kind of habitat .
Cities make one kind of habitat but there are lots of other places where plants and animals live. A habitat can be enormous, such as a great forest, or it can be tiny, such as a small stone, which forms a habitat for the animals living underneath it. Let's look at some habitats and the plants and animals that live in them.
In the city
People have changed natural habitats by building cities with houses, factories and roads to live and work in. Many plants and animals have found ways of living in the city . Mice make their nests in warm places under the floorboards of houses. They find crumbs to steal and eat from food cupboards. Cats have learnt to knock the lid off rubbish bins to find something to eat. When people leave a building empty, plants soon find all kinds of places where they can grow.
The banks, the water and the muddy beds of rivers and lakes make different habitats for all kinds of animals and plants. The water is full of animals and plants that can only be seen through a microscope. These tiny living things are food for other water inhabitants, such as snails, worms and insect larvae that live in the mud at the bottom of rivers and lakes. Fish swim among the underwater plants, feeding on the plants and other water creatures .
Rainforests are the habitat of millions of different plants and animals. Orchids, vines, bromeliads and air plants grow high up in the branches to reach the sunlight. Their roots cannot grow down into the earth so they collect water from the damp air. Brightly coloured frogs live among the plants and in the water that collects in the leaves and flowers. Animals live in every part of the rainforest. Toucans search for food and insects in the canopy. Spider monkeys use their tails like an extra arm to swing through the branches that reach above the canopy. Jaguars hunt in the shadows of the forest floor.
There are few trees in grasslands, but the grass provides food for many animals. Stripy zebra eat the top of the grass. The antelope graze on the short grass near to the ground. The grazing animals are food for meat eaters, such as lions. There are few trees and bushes for homes and shelter. Small animals, such as the meerkats, dig burrows underground so that they can dive into them for safety when an enemy is near .
Deserts are very dry place with little rainfall. They can be hot in the day and cold at night. The ground is often rocky or sandy. Animals, such as camels, live in the desert. They can survive with very little water. Cactus plants are well adapted for growing in the desert. They store water in their thick, fleshy stems. Desert people live near springs of fresh water called oases.
The polar lands at the North and South Poles are cold all year round. The winters are long and dark. The summers are short and cold even though there is Sun. Emperor penguins live near the South Pole. Their feathers keep them warm. They live in groups and huddle together for warmth. Polar bears live around the frozen North Pole. They have thick fur and an extra layer of fat to keep them warm . Summer in the Arctic near the North Pole only lasts for about two months and the Sun never sets. The ice and snow will melt during that time and millions of insects buzz around the flowers that spring up. Flocks of birds and herds of caribu make long journeys north to feed on the plants and insects. When the cold weather begins, they travel south again where it is warmer.