Grassland habitats are found all over the globe and tons of plants, animals, and insects make their homes in them. Animals that live in grasslands are often in danger of losing their homes to human development for housing, cities, and farmland. Often referred to as prairies, savannahs, and steppes, grasslands are usually too dry for many trees to survive, leaving drought-tolerant grasses to cover the area. These grasses provide food for a wide variety of herbivorous animals and the predators that feed on them.
Animals that live in Grasslands
In this article, we will be talking about 9 iconic animals that live in grasslands all across the globe.
Scientific name: Bison bison
These iconic animals historically roamed the prairies of North America from Canada to Mexico and almost every state in the US. Unfortunately, when Europeans settled in the Americas they turned many prairies into farmland and hunted the bison to near extinction.
In 1905, Teddy Roosevelt formed the American Bison Society, which has since worked diligently to bring our national mammal back from the brink. Bison, also known as buffalo, are now found in all 50 states, though the biggest herd is found in Yellowstone National Park.
2. Spotted Hyena
Scientific name: Crocuta crocuta
The largest member of the hyena family is the spotted hyena, also known as the laughing hyena. These impressive animals are matriarchal, which means a female leads the pack, which can be as large as 100 individual animals. Interestingly, even the highest-ranking male hyena has a lower social status than the lowest ranking female.
Hyenas are known to live in African savannahs and compete with lions for prey. Hyenas will often kill lion cubs that are left undefended. The life of a hyena is competitive from birth, with newborn cubs fighting for dominance almost as soon as they are born.
3. Maned Wolf
Scientific name: Chrysocyon brachyurus
The maned wolf lives in eastern and central South America, including Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. They are omnivorous, feeding on fruits, vegetables, small rodents, and insects.
Unlike other wolf species, the maned wolf lives in monogamous pairs and mate for life. They have an average of 2-5 cubs per year and raise them together. These eye-catching animals are sadly endangered and at great risk of extinction due to habitat loss.
There are several species of badger that live in grasslands. The three main ones are the American badger, the honey badger, and the European badger. All three are carnivorous, feeding on small rodents, birds, lizards, fish, and insects.
The badger is an opportunistic hunter. They will often catch prey they come across even if they aren’t hungry. When this happens, they cache the food for later.
Badgers are solitary animals but do come together to breed once per year. The average litter size is 3 kits.
Fun fact: The dachshund was actually bred specifically for hunting badgers in Europe. The name dachshund means “badger dog” in German. Overhunting of badgers in Europe has led to a diminished population that is still recovering.
Scientific name: Equus caballus
When you think of American heritage, the image of mustangs running across the plains may come to mind. These gorgeous animals are descendants of horses brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers. While we think of them as wild, they are technically feral.
Mustangs range across most of the US and are currently regulated by the BLM or Bureau of Land Management. There is a debate between the BLM and animal rights advocates about the ability of these animals to self-regulate reproduction.
In an effort to prevent starvation, most herds are rounded up and thinned out regularly to prevent overpopulation. The animals removed from the herds are available for adoption through the BLM.
The bustard is a family of terrestrial birds that make their homes in the steppes and grasslands of the old world. There are 26 recognized species of bustard, including the great bustard, the lesser florican, and the blue korhaan.
These birds are omnivorous, feeding on insects, lizards, seeds, fruit, leaves, and buds of plants. They live in medium-sized same-sex flocks that join together to form larger flocks for breeding. Each male will mate with multiple females and the females will usually lay an average of 2 eggs.
7. Saiga Antelope
Scientific name: Saiga tatarica
Saiga Antelope are wacky-looking animals that live in the Eurasian steppes. Known for their large horns and large bulbous noses, these animals have evolved to make the best of the harsh environment they call home.
The nose of the saiga antelope is thought to serve several functions. It filters out dust and other particles in the dry summers, warms the air in the frigid winters, and aids in producing the pitch of mating calls.
These incredible animals are sadly at great risk of extinction due to poaching and climate change. One massive die-off occurred in 2015 when a normally harmless bacteria killed over 200,000 animals.
Saigas normally live in large social groups consisting of 1 male and 30-50 females. They breed once a year and have either a single baby or twins.
Fun Fact: Saiga antelope are thought to be the inspiration for the eopie in Star Wars.
Scientific name: Canis lupis
Dingos are carnivorous canines that live in grasslands across the countryside of Australia. Here they feed on a wide range of species, from small mammals, to fish, and even water buffalo.
Dingos either live alone or in small packs of 3-10 individuals. Most solitary animals are young, and will eventually find a pack to join so they can breed and have more success hunting.
These canines do mate for life and females usually give birth to an average of 5 pups once a year.
Scientific name: Vombatus ursinus
Another Australian animal is the wombat. Wombats are cuddly-looking marsupials that usually weigh between 40 and 80 pounds. Their only real predators are dingos, Tasmanian devils, foxes, and wild dogs. When threatened by predators, their main method of defense is to crush their predator’s skulls with their rump.
Wombats are herbivorous and feed on grasses and roots. These animals are not very social and live a very solitary life, only coming together once a year to breed.
The babies of wombats are quite small with a single baby being born at a time and weighing just a gram. They spend roughly 7-10 months in their mother’s pouch before emerging and learning to live life on their own.