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Grasslands – What Plants and Animals Are Found in Grasslands?

 

What is a grassland, exactly? In America, we call them prairies. In South America, they’re known as pampas. In Russia and the Ukraine, they’re called steppes. And you’ve probably heard of the African savannah – also a type of grassland.

The swift fox, a common grassland animal

The swift fox, a common grassland animal

Grasslands are simply places where there is not enough rain to grow a forest, and too much rain to be a desert. The main plants that grow here are — you guessed it – grasses. Wildflowers also grow, along with the occasional tree.

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Grasslands Quiz

Grasslands Quiz

Fun Facts about Grasslands for Kids

  • In northern climates, the grass stays short because these areas have cold winters and dry, hot summers.
  • In southern climates, the grass grows very tall because these areas have warm weather and periods of very wet weather followed by dry weather.
Mountain plover

Mountain plover

  • Grasslands harbor many species of life. In Africa, you’ll find lions, elephants, zebras and giraffes living on the grasslands. In America, coyotes, antelope, rabbits and rattlesnakes are common.
  • Grasslands are usually flat and have fertile soil. In the U.S., most of our prairies have been turned into farms. America has some of the richest farms in the world.
  • Fires on prairies and grasslands are common. After a fire, the grass grows again and comes back even thicker and healthier.
animals-that-live-in-grasslands image

In Africa, you’ll find lions, elephants, zebras and giraffes living on the grasslands. In America, coyotes, antelope, rabbits and rattlesnakes are common.

Grasslands are a type of biome, which means a type of community of plants and animals that live together and need a similar environment. Other examples of biomes include deserts, forests, mountains, and even the ocean.

What kinds of plants and animals do you picture when you think of a desert? Maybe scorpions, or snakes, or cactuses? It doesn’t matter where a desert is in the world, it will likely have the same kinds of life that are able to live in these unique environments.

Grasslands are biomes, just like deserts. There are similar animals and plants in all grasslands around the world.

the Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park in Canada

The Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park in Canada

Firstly, all grasslands have, well, grass. There are tons of different kinds of grasses in the world. You might be most familiar with the kind of grass you find in your yard or at a park.

Those kinds of grasses are usually not found in grasslands. Instead, there are lots of very tall and sturdy grasses, along with flowers, maybe some cactuses, and small shrubs. Occasionally, a few trees may grow, but generally there is not enough rain to support lots of tree growth like in a forest.

A prairie in North America

A prairie in North America

As for animals, all grasslands have rodents, like mice, prairie dogs, meerkats, and ground squirrels. These small animals tend to be eaten by snakes and raptors, like owls, hawks, and eagles.

It is pretty common to find large birds and small birds living in and around grasslands. There are also grazing animals on all grasslands. These include deer, bison, antelope, zebras, and elephants. Finally, there are always predators that live on a grassland.

Weasels, foxes, coyotes, wolves, and lions are all predators that will hunt any of the other animals they encounter.

A burrowing owl is one type of animal found in grasslands

A burrowing owl is one type of animal found in grasslands

Because grasslands tend to get less water than forests, they tend to dry out without regular rain. When grasses get too dry, they can easily catch fire from a lightning strike or accidental spark.

Although these flames can be dangerous for any people, animals, and plants living on a grassland, fire are pretty common and can even lead to a healthier grassland when it grows back.

Fires are a normal event on grasslands and can lead to healthy regrowth

Fires are a normal event on grasslands and can lead to healthy regrowth

Grassland Vocabulary

  1. Prairie: wide, open grassy area
  2. Wildflowers: flowers that grow wild with no help
  3. Harbor: provide shelter
  4. Fertile: rich, full of nutrients

Learn More All About Grasslands

Know more all about grasslands in this video:

A video explaining about grasslands.

Grassland Q&A

Question: How much of the earth is covered in grasslands?

Answer: 25 percent of the earth is grasslands. Much of these grasslands are gone, though, due to farming.

Question: Where are grasslands usually found?

Answer: Grasslands can usually be found between deserts and forests. Forests tend to get lots of rain, which allows the many trees to grow. Around the edges of the forest where the rain tapers off, only grasses, flowers, and shrubs are able to get enough water to grow.

Around the edges of grasslands where there is even less rain, many plants are unable to grow and the soil dries out. This creates a desert.

black rhino

black rhino

 

Question: Are grasslands dangerous?

Answer: Generally the weather is not terribly dangerous on grasslands, though a big thunderstorm could lead to lightning strikes. Some animals on grasslands can be dangerous, such as lions, coyotes, and hyenas.

It is important to know what kinds of animals may live on any grasslands you visit so you can be best prepared to protect yourself and the animals.

 

Enjoyed the Easy Science for Kids Website all about Grasslands info? Take the FREE & fun Grasslands quiz and download FREE Grasslands worksheet for kids. For lengthy info click here.

 

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