How Animals Protect Themselves

All animals have the instinct of self-preservation. This means that they will protect themselves if their lives are threatened. Each animal has its own way to fight back and defend itself.

All animals have the instinct of self-preservation. This means that they will protect themselves if their lives are threatened. Animals may be attacked by people or other animals. Each animal has its own way to fight back and defend itself. Some animals hide when they sense that the enemy is near. Some animals act as if they were dead to fool the enemy. Others use their legs to run away from their enemies. What other adaptations for protection do animals have?

Some animals have protective shells. When a small snail is surprised by an enemy, it retreats inside its shell. Oysters and clams close their shells to avoid being harmed. Turtles pull their heads and legs into their shells so they look like rocks. In this way, they can be safe from their enemies. A porcupine is an animal with strong stiff quills on its back, sides and tail. The quills are sharp bristles of hair that have grown together. Porcupines defend themselves by striking attackers with their quelled tails. The quill quills come out easily and stick in the attacker’s flesh. Hedgehogs also defend themselves with their quills. A porcupine fish has strong sharp spines on its body. When it senses an enemy nearby, it fills its stomach with water so its body puffs up. The spines stick out. The appearance of the fish drives away its enemy. If the enemy attacks, the fish uses its spines to protect itself.

Horns and antlers are bony structures that arise from the head of some animals. Deer, carabao and moose fight with their antlers. An elephant’s trunk can pick up an animal and smash it to the ground. Its pointed tusk can pierce an attacker and kill it. Other animals with tusks are boars and walruses. Many animals such as dogs, cats and wolves have sharp, pointed teeth called fangs. They also have sharp nails. They can bite and scratch their enemies. Some birds have sharp beaks and talons with which to fight their enemies. When a skunk is frightened, it sprays a foul-smelling liquid that drives away the enemy. Squids shoot out a cloud of inky material that blackens the water so they can escape without being seen. Snakes, frogs and toads protect themselves with their poison. So do bees, wasps and scorpions.

Some animals defend themselves by bluffing, that is, by making they appear different from what they really are. Some snakes and lizards inflate themselves and hiss to frighten their attackers. Other animals pretend to be dead. A good example of this is the opossum. When it sees and enemy, it lies down and closes its eyes and pretends to be dead. In this way, the attacking enemy would leave it. Protective coloration is also known as camouflage. Some animals have color patterns that blend with the surroundings so that they cannot be easily seen. For example, grasshoppers have the same color as grass. Snakes in desserts match the color of sand. Some fish match the color of water or of plants. Some harmless animals mimic or copy harmful animals to drive away their enemies. For example, some flies have no sting, but their color is similar to the color of wasps that have stings. If an animal has been stung by a wasp before, it would avoid the fly that looks like a wasp. Other animals have shapes that look like objects in the environment so they cannot be easily seen. This is known as mimicry. Mimicry makes an animal look like another animal or object.

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3 Responses to “How Animals Protect Themselves”
  1. Barneslow Says...

    On October 4, 2010 at 9:33 am


  2. jojomen Says...

    On December 12, 2010 at 7:47 am

    good stuff, simple yet informative.


  3. joeldgreat Says...

    On December 11, 2012 at 7:02 am

    thanks for the comments.


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