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15 Types of Animal Habitats (With Pictures)

Different species of animals live in different types of habitats. Some prefer frigid temperatures, while others love basking in the hot sun. There are many different types of animal habitats, from the ocean to the desert, and most creatures can only survive in one kind.

Some animals in extreme environments are migratory. Leaving in the winter and returning when temperatures rise. Most animals can only survive in one type of habitat, like polar bears or vent worms.

What is an animal habitat?

In simple terms an animal’s habitat is its home. The ecology that surrounds it and the environment it lives in. This includes things like the animal’s food supply, water source, and shelter.

Types of animal habitats

Habitats are specific environments ideal for certain types of animals. The type of habitat depends on the region’s climate and geography. Most bird and animal species have adapted to survive in one type of biome and cannot live in a different habitat. For example, a rattlesnake will not survive in the tundra but thrives in the desert.

Here are some of the different types of animal habits and what you can expect to find in them.

1. Wetlands

Any area of land that frequently floods is a wetland habitat. It can be at the edge of a lake or pond, along a marsh, or the mouth of a river. Land by the ocean can also be a wetland. It is an area that is consistently wet with salt or freshwater. Reptiles and amphibians live in wetlands, along with invertebrates, and birds.

2. Tundra

The temperatures are often below freezing in the Tundra. It’s a semi-flat treeless environment with extremely limited drainage due to the frozen surface. Some animals migrate in the winter. Caribou and the semipalmated plover migrate in the winter. Others like the Arctic hare and polar bear can only survive in this type of habitat.

3. Savanna

Savannas have a warm climate year-round. These flat grasslands only have a few trees and shrubs, and are devoid of forests. Savannas are most often found close to the equator and are home to several species of animals and reptiles, and insects. Meerkats, termites, elephants, crocodiles, and snakes are some of the species that call the savanna home.

4. Tropical rainforest

Rainforests are warm, wet environments filled with plant and animal life. These habitats exist around the world. The most well-known is the South American rainforest that stretches across several countries, including Brazil and Costa Rica. Trees grow taller in rainforests in an attempt to reach the sunlight. Some of the animals that live in rainforests are jaguars, poison dart frogs, and the mountain gorilla.

5. Desert

Not all deserts are hot and dry. Some are semi-arid, while others are cold. You can even find coastal deserts. These environments have one thing in common, the annual rainfall is scarce. Depending on the type of desert environment, you can find snakes, mice, armadillos, and ants.

6. Arctic

Arctic fox in Iceland

The Arctic environment is comprised of glaciers and tundra. The climate is consistently below freezing, limiting the type of animals that can survive in the frigid habitat. Narwhals, penguins, walruses, and polar bears live in the icy biome.

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7. Coral reef

Coral reefs are complex habitats formed close to tropical islands and at the edge of continents. The corals are built by minuscule sea creatures which harden and grow into the reefs which provide shelter for several species. Sharks, eels, snappers, and other species of fish shelter in coral reefs. Crustaceans and sponges also make their home in the reefs.

8. Grasslands

Grasslands are a balance between deserts and forests in rainfall percentage. Most of the vegetation are various types of grass. These plants need less water than trees. Grasslands are located between deserts and mountains. The habitat is also home to a variety of grazing and predatory animals.

9. Mountains

Mountain habits refer to the terrain above the foothills, and the habitat exists on every continent. It contains a variety of trees, and the terrain varies from grassy slopes to rocky hillsides. Mountain gorillas, snow leopards, brown bears, and giant pandas are some animals that live in mountain habitats.

10. Rivers and streams

River and stream habitats are characterized by fresh, running water. Along with several species of fish, other animals live in the freshwater habitat. Marsh birds, turtles, snakes, and otters live in rivers and streams. Alligators and beavers also live in watery habitats.

11. Open ocean


Image: Wikicommons / CC BY 2.0

The open ocean habitat begins at depths between 500-1,000 meters. The temperature of the saltwater environment differs according to the ocean’s proximity to the equator. Fish, mammals, crustaceans, and organisms live in the open ocean.

12. Brackish water/estuary

Brackish water habitats are a mix of fresh and saltwater. The environments are found in bayous and streams running inland from the ocean. A variety of animals live in brackish water including bull sharks, saltwater crocodiles, herring, pufferfish, salmon, and striped bass.

An estuary is partially cut off from the ocean and can be formed as a lagoon, bay, or river mouth. Shorebirds, marine worms, skunks, reptiles, and shellfish are some of the animals living in estuaries.

13. Hydrothermal vent

image by NOAA Ocean Exploration & Research via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Hydrothermal vent environments are found on the ocean floor near ridges where tectonic plates are moving. Magna from the earth’s crust rises and flows through small vents as steam. Gastropods, yeti crabs, vent mussels, and tube worms live in this habitat.

14. Coast

This type of animal habitat is close to and along the marine shoreline, and will also include some brackish water habitats. Coastal habitats include mangroves, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and salt marshes. The saltwater environment is home to a variety of fish, crustaceans, and marine mammals. Dolphins and manatees, along with starfish, clams, fish, and kelp live in a coastal habitat.

15. Lakes and ponds

Lakes and ponds have four distinct habitats, surface film, open water, bottom, and shore. Each habitat is home to a variety of animals that thrive in a separate freshwater environment. The surface film is home to crayfish, tadpoles, ducks, and insects. The open water is home to a variety of species of fish. Along the bottom, crustaceans survive. The shoreline is home to earthworms, raccoons, and other animals.