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Updated on June 17, 2009


To make it easier to study animals,

they have been arranged into classes. Each animal class is made up of animals that are alike in important ways. There are many kinds of animal classes and each one has a name. Every kind of animal belongs to one of the classes. This lense will show the kinds of animals that belong to each of the six most important classes.



If an animal drinks milk when it's a baby, and has hair on its body, it belongs to the mammal class.

If an animal comes out of an egg with a hard shell, and has feathers on its body, it belongs to the class of birds.

If an animal lives in water, and has gills and scales and fins on its body, it belongs to the class of fish

If an animal has a scaly skin, is cold blooded, and is always born on the land, it belongs to the class of reptiles.

If an animal has more than four jointed legs and a hard covering over its whole body, it belongs to the class of anthropods

If an animal is born in the water and breathes with gills, but can live on the land when it grows up, it belongs to the class of amphibians.


The Furry and Not So Furry

If you have a dog or a cat, you have a pet mammal. Hamsters and gerbils are mammals too. And so are you! Of all the animals, only mammals feed their babies with milk from their body. Mammals are warm-blooded. It may be very hot outside or freezing cold but the mammal's body temperature stays the same. Mammals also have fur or hair.

There are more than 800,000 kinds of insects and more than 30,000 kinds of fish, but there are only 5,000 kinds of mammals. Funny, we always seem to choose mammals for pets!

All mammals are born the same way and they all eat the same food when they are babies. Most mammal babies live inside their mothers before they are born and are joined by a tube. That tube gives the baby food and oxygen from the mother's body. The baby lives and grows and when its body is ready it comes out of the mother's body.

All of the other kinds of baby animals eat different sorts of things, but baby mammals only eat milk. No baby mammal ever eats anything else until it gets a bit bigger. Many kinds of mammal babies are weak and helpless for a long time. Kittens, puppies, mice and humans are all

born with weak legs and closed eyes.

A moose calf can walk after just a few days. A pronghorn antelope baby can run 25 miles an hour when it is only a day old!

Some baby mammals are really small when they are born. A kangaroo is only about an inch long and they are called a "joey".It stays with it's mom until it's about eighteen months old, but after ten months, he's too big to get in the pouch. An opossum is smaller than a bee! These are the most helpless of the mammal babies. They live their first months in their mother's pouches. They don't move out of the pouch or even peek out of it. They just lay in there and drink milk and grow! Then for a few weeks or months, they'll play jack in the box games with their mothers. They spend part of the time outside the pouch and then when they get scared they'll run and get back in it!

Opossum babies and koala babies ride piggyback on their mothers.

They stay with their moms until they are about a year old.

As baby mammals grow, they begin to get teeth. They learn how to bite, tear, gnaw and chew. So then they need more than just milk. They start eating leaves, grass, and some eat meat. Some babies have to be taught to eat grown-up food.A father wolf will bring a piece of meat to his pups and they will play with it for a little while. Then they discover that they like it and eat it.

After that, they never drink milk again! Sounds like some kids I know!

When the baby mammals learn how to walk, oh what a sight!

When a baby hippo starts walking, it likes to try to get away from its mother, but she pushes him back behind her with her nose. She does this so that she can protect him. But, like all kids, he has to learn to stay there!

Seals learn how to swim by riding on their mothers' backs. Lion cubs learn to hunt, baby bears learn what berries they can eat and how to snatch fish out of streams. And they all learn by watching their mothers.

When the baby mammal gets nearly grown, and it has learned what to eat, how to get it and how to survive, then its mother may drive it away. Except humans, they let theirs come back! Now you see why some animals eat their young!

Mammals live all over the place. Some live in the hot, damp jungles; some in the hot, dry deserts; some live in dark caves and can fly, and some live in the ocean! From the coldest parts of the world to the hottest, if there's a place to live, mammals have moved in!


Our Fine Feathered Friends

Do you know what makes a bird different from any other animal?

It's not the wings, because other animals like the butterfly and bees have them;

It's not the bill either, because other animals have a bill, like the platypus;

It's not the eggs either, because alligators and turtles lay eggs too;

Give up?

Feathers! All birds have feathers. And birds are the only animals that have feathers! Their feathers overlap each other so that they can catch and hold the air while flying. The bird's tail feathers overlap too. It helps the bird steer itself while it's flying and to help the bird land. Kind of like an airplane! The bird's claws help it to perch on the tree branch and sing for you.

The feathers that are closest to the bird's skin is called down. That's what helps keep the bird warm. Some even line their nests with it.

Inside the bird's egg is a tiny baby bird all curled up in a ball. It's head is bigger than its body and its eyes are closed.

When the baby bird fills up the inside of the egg and there's no more room, then it's time to hatch! The baby bird's bill has a tiny tooth on the end of it and that's what helps it to get out of the egg. The baby moves around inside of the egg and makes it crack. When that happens, it scrapes its tooth against the crack and makes it bigger. After a while the baby bird has made a hole in the shell and it wriggles through it. Then, a few days after it leaves the egg, the little tooth falls off.

There are some birds that can fly as soon as they get big enough to, like the swift and the swallows. There are some birds that have to practice for a bit, like the sparrow, before it can fly really well.

Then there's the ostrich, penguin, and kiwi. They can't fly at all! Ostriche's wings are too small to lift it's big body up in the air, and penguins wings are used like flippers so they can swim. A kiwi has very tiny wings. So small you almost can't see them. Some of the flying birds are the fastest of all animals. The fastest bird is a duck hawk. It can fly 175 miles an hour!

Birds have different sized beaks too. Some are like a shovel so that they can dip into the mud and water to get food. A heron spears it's food with its beak. A parrot cracks nuts and seeds with its bill. Robins and sparrows have little bills like tweezers because they eat such tiny stuff. A woodpecker's bill looks like a drill. It pecks holes into trees to get to the insects living inside. And the hummingbird's bill is like a straw so it can get nectar out of flowers.

Most birds' bills are special tools. They are shaped to help the bird get the kind of food it eats.


Or What's For Dinner?

Sometimes it's hard to tell what is a fish and what isn't.

A sea horse doesn't look like a fish, but it is. And a dolphin looks like a fish, but it isn't! The way to tell is if they have three things. Fins, scales, and gillsNearly all fish have scales. Some are little round or diamond shaped pieces of thin bony stuff. They fit together and cover the fish's whole body. And nearly all fish have fins. A fish usually has a fin on its back, a fin on its belly, a broad fin for a tail, and two fins on each side. They steer themselves with the smaller fins and uses the tail fin to propel itself forward. And all fish have gills. Gills are the slits in a fish's head, behind its mouth. Fish breathe through them. The gills are openings filled with thin pieces of skin, almost like the pages of a book. Water goes into the openings and through the "pages". They take the oxygen out of the water and put the oxygen into the fish's blood. Like all other animals, a fish needs oxygen to live..

They also have big, staring eyes.

They don't have eyelids, so their eyes are always open!

Some fish lay eggs and some don't. A herring lays more than thirty thousand eggs at a time. Their eggs stick to sand, rocks, and plants. A sardine may lay a hundred thousand eggs and they float in the water. But the champion egg layers are the cod and turbot. One cod will lay as many as four million eggs while the turbot lays as many as nine million! With all of the fish laying all of those eggs, you would think that the waters in the world would be full of baby fish! But most eggs never hatch. They don't have shells to protect them, so they are like little bits of jelly. A lot of eggs wash up onto shore and some get ate by other fish. Only a few eggs out of every million actually become baby fish.

When baby fish are hatched, it's the father fish that tends to them. Some father fish, like the small mouth black bass takes care of his babies before they are even born! He stands guard over the hole that the mother fish lays them in. He pushes the mother fish away so that he can guard it all by himself! He fans the eggs with his tail. That keeps the water fresh around the eggs and helps them to hatch.

A father sea catfish carries his eggs in his mouth until they hatch. Then he holds them in there until they are big enough to take care of themselves. Once they are, he spits them out in the water and away they swim!

Bet that makes it hard to eat a bite!!

Speaking of eating, just about everything in the water is food for a hungry fish. A lot of fish eat smaller fish. Some jump out of the water and catch insects. Sturgeons eat crayfish, snails and insects. Big bass, pike and bowfins gobble up frogs, baby muskrats and baby ducks! The other other white meat! Some fish only eat plants. A few kinds of fish eat both plants and animals. Parrot fish like seaweed and the tiny worms that live in coral.

The ocean sunfish eats tiny shrimp, baby fish, jellyfish, and algae.

There are thousands of kinds of fish, so you know there are some strange looking ones. The mudskipper has a frog head and a fish body! It crawls up on the land sometimes and hops around catching insects.

An archerfish shoots its food! Fish have guns?! They swim on top of the water and shoot a stream of water out of it's mouth and shoots beetles down into the water! Good shot!

There's a fish called a cowfish that has horns on its head. And an elephant nose mormyrid that has a long nose like an elephant's trunk.

A puffer fish can fill itself up with air and goes around looking like a balloon with eyes and fins and a mouth!

Leafy sea dragons look like a piece of seaweed.

A flounder has both of its eyes on the same side of its head. Here's lookin' at ya!

You can see the insides of a glass catfish!

You would sure have a hard time picking the strangest one!

The ocean is a noisy place, too. It's full of grunts, croaks, squeaks, snores, clicks and roars! Many of those sounds are made by the fish!!

A lot of the fish get their names from the sounds they make. Like the grunt fish who rubs its teeth together and makes a grunting sound. There's also a croaker and a snorer! Sounds like my house!

Some fish grunt by snapping their muscles against a piece of skin inside their body.

Sea horses make a clicking noise by hitting a piece of bone on their heeads against a piece of bone on their backs.

Sharks sometimes make a roaring noise. But they really aren't roaring.. they are burping! They have to swallow air to stay up close to the surface, but when they want to go down into the deep, they have to let the air out and it makes the burp sound like a roar! Hmm.. my uncle must be a shark!

Some fish noises mean things, like when the males call the females to find out what's for dinner or when a couple of them get ready to fight.

Sounds a lot like people!


Things That Make You Move Fast!

Suppose you found some rubbery, leathery eggs on the ground. And suppose that some little scaly-skinned animals hatched out of them. Those are reptiles! Fish have scaly skin, but they can't lay eggs on the land.

Birds lay eggs on the land, but they don't have scaly skin.

Only reptiles have scaly skin and lay eggs on the land!

Snakes, turtles, lizards, tuataras, alligators and crocodiles are reptiles.

You can always tell a turtle by its shell. Box turtles have a high, round shell and when they hide, it closes up like a box. A map turtle has a wide, flat shell with bumpy edges. And a soft-shelled turtle's shell (say that 3 times real fast) looks like a green pancake. But all turtles have shells.

Most of them hide in them when they sense danger.

Another reptile that is easy to tell is a snake. Whether it's a little 15 inch long ringneck snake or a big thirty foot anaconda, they all have the same shape.

Long, round and legless.

Sometimes it's hard to tell what is a lizard and what isn't. Some lizards look like snakes and some look like worms. Alligator lizards look like baby alligators.

But there's one way to tell geckos, skinks and some other lizards. If they are grabbed by their tail, the tail's fall off and the lizard runs away!

Don't worry though, it doesn't hurt them and they do grow back!

Alligators and crocodiles look a lot alike, but an alligator has fatter, shorter jaws and is smaller. The crocodile is the biggest of all the reptiles.

Alligators put their eggs into a nest of mud and grass. Then she covers them up with mouthfuls of mud and grass. She stays by her nest until the eggs hatch.

Turtles dig holes in the sand or mud. After they lay their eggs, they cover them up and just leave! They leave the sun to keep them warm and make them hatch.

Some snakes lay their eggs and leave too, but there are some that coil themselves around their eggs until they hatch. Then after they hatch, the mother leaves.

Every few months, snakes get too big for their britches, I mean skins. When it's ready to come off, it gets dry and loose. The snake rubs its mouth against something rough and causes the skin around its lips to split open.

Then it starts to crawl and the skin just rolls inside out and slides right off of the snakes body!

Lizards take off their old skins too, but they tear theirs off in pieces.

They have legs, so they can't just roll out of it like snakes do.

Snakes eat only live food like rats, birds, lizards and rabbits. Small snakes eat mice, worms, frogs, snails and insects. There are some that eat mostly spiders. They are called Hook-nosed snakes.

African egg-eating snakes eat, you guessed it, bird eggs.


Guess what the favorite food of King snakes, cobras and Black Racer snakes is?

Other snakes!

The Black Racer eats more snakes than any other snake though.

They don't chew their food either! They swallow it whole. Those egg eaters can swallow eggs bigger than their heads!

And pythons can swallow small hogs, deer or goats! Hoof and all!!

All reptiles are cold-blooded. That means their bodies get just as hot or cold as the air or water around them. If they get cold, they can't move very well.

So the next time you see a snake, put ice on him!

Then run!!


Those Things You Find In Boy's Pockets!

Animals that are born in the water and then live on the land are called amphibians. They lay eggs that are soft and have no shells. They dry up easily so they must be laid by the water or in wet places. Most baby amphibians are born in the water. They look like baby fish and breathe with gills as a fish does.

When they grow up, their gills disappear. Then they come onto the land to live. They breathe with lungs just as birds, dogs, and people do.

The word amphibian means two lives. That's a good name for animals that live one kind of life in water and another kind of life on land!

Frogs and toads resemble a lot but toads are fatter and have shorter back legs. It's skin is rough and damp.

A frog's skin is smooth and wet. Most toads have warts on their skin, but don't worry, you can't really catch warts from touching a toad!

They don't have tails like the salamander and newts do. The strangest of all the amphibians are the caecilians. They live in tropical climates.

They look like big, fat worms. Sometimes they are as big around as a man's thumb and as long as a yardstick.

Hmm.. I call that a snake! Throw ice on it!!

Most amphibians hide and sleep during the day and at night they creep and hop out for food. I must be amphibian!

Frogs and toads always seem to be hungry. They like to eat live things too. Most of them eat insects, worms or even smaller toads and frogs, but a big bullfrog will eat small turtles, snakes, mice and birds! As long as it doesn't move though, the frog/toad won't bother it. You let it move one little wiggle, though, and blam! Out comes the tongue and goodbye goes the wiggler!

Amphibians are cold blooded like me. They like to burrow down and hide under warm places when it gets cold. Some even dig down into the pond or river that they live in to stay warm! When they get cold, just like the reptiles, they can't move, their breathing slows down and their hearts nearly stop beating. If they get too cold, though, they can die.


AKA Leggy little creatures!

Spiders, grasshoppers, ladybugs, caterpillars, and crayfish (aka crawfish in the south..aka delicacy ) are all arthropods. They live everywhere! Jungles, deserts, oceans, caves, mountaintops and in your own backyard!

You can watch them creep, crawl, dash, hop, fly, hunt, fight, and eat all summer long!

Sounds like a teenager to me!

If it has six legs and two little wiggly feelers on its head, then it's an insect. Some insects have two wings too. Dragonflies and beetles have four wings.

Insects are not at all like people.

If you want to taste something, you put your tongue on it.

A fly walks on it to taste it.

Next time you find a fly on you, watch out! He's tasting of you! Might take a bite!

When you want to smell something, you use your nose.

The fly smells with his feelers. And he can smell things better with those two little wiggly things than we can with our nose!

Insects don't see as we do either. An insect's eye is really hundreds of tiny eyes. Each tiny piece of eye sees a piece of what the insect is looking at. This must make them feel like they are looking through a screen!

No matter where you live, some of these little six-legged animals are sure to be near you. There are nearly a million kinds of insects--and there are billions of each kind! Insects generally eat other insects.

Bring out the fly-swatters!

Add a couple of legs and we are onto the spider. A lot of people don't like spiders. But they help us. They eat the many insects that are harmful to people.

Some spiders trap the insects in silk webs.

The silk is a liquid that becomes a thin, strong thread when air touches it.

Different kinds of spiders make different kinds of webs. Garden spiders make sticky webs. Those are the ones you run into on your way out to the mailbox!

Black widow spiders make tangled webs and grass spiders make webs like little sheets. Wolf spiders and lynx spiders catch insects by chasing them. Jumping spiders jump on their prey from several inches away. I hope I'm never prey!

Some spiders are fishermen. They wait by a stream or pond and catch the water insects that swim past. Sometimes they'll dive into the water and grab fish! A raft spider makes a little boat of silk and leaves. When a small fish or water insect gets close, that spider will reach out and grab it! Spiders don't have wings or feelers, so they are not insects. Eight-legged animals are called arachnids.

Two more legs and we are up to ten!

What has ten legs, creeps over the sea bottom, has two big claws and long feelers, and is covered with a hard shell?.

Think hard!

It's probably been on your dinner plate.... yep! It's a lobster!

Lobsters, crabs, shrimps, and barnacles are crustaceans. That is a word that means "animal with a crust". Hmmmm... fried chicken is a crustacean??

Crustaceans are cousins of the insects that fly and leap and creep about on land but they are different from insects in several ways.

But they have ten legs and sometimes four feelers. Insects breathe through tiny holes in their bodies and crustaceans breathe with gills.

Caterpillars and moths look nothing alike, but they are the same kind of animal. The caterpillar is a baby moth. Every caterpillar you see in the summertime is a baby moth or butterfly. When a caterpillar comes out of its egg it spends a few weeks eating and growing.

Then it goes to sleep either in its cocoon, shell or in the ground, depending on what kind of caterpillar it is and goes to sleep. Some sleep through summer and wake in the fall, some sleep during the winter and wake up in the spring, but once they wake up, they have changed!

It breaks out of its shell or pushes itself out of its silk blanket, or crawls out of the ground, but it isn't a short legged caterpillar anymore! Now it has six long legs and two long feelers! Tiny raglike things on its back slowly swell up and become wings!

The crawling little caterpillar has become a flying creature

--either a moth or butterfly!

Grasshoppers and all the many-legged creatures change skins many times during their lives. Insects, spiders, crabs and lobsters all do it. A few hours after they have changed skins, the new ones are soft.

But soon they turn as hard as our fingernails!

In the summer you may see what looks like a dead insect clinging to a twig or plant stem. That's the empty skin the insect left behind!

When you hear all of those chirps, creaks, and buzzes, then you know the male insects are calling for the females. None of the sounds are made with their mouth though. Katydids rub their wings together to make their noise.

No insect has a voice, but they can seem to hear, even though they don't have ears. Grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets have ears, but they are in some strange places!

A grasshopper's ears are on its side and a katydid's ears are on its legs!

Insects all have a way of protecting themselves. Some will sting while stink bugs will spray bad smells. The bombardier beetle shoots out a stinging, bad-tasting spray that will even chase a frog away! Now who in the world tasted it??

Some insects just use the camouflage technique and blend into their surroundings.

Some are protected by their colors.

Brightly colored orange and black insects taste bad.

Again, who has been tasting them??


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MAMMAL MUSINGS Leave your favorite animal thoughts here! BLESSED BY

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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Nice lens, even the squidoo is flying;)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I like Dogs.....

    • profile image


      5 years ago


    • suepogson profile image


      5 years ago

      This is explained so well I can use it with young children. Well done and thank you.

    • suepogson profile image


      5 years ago

      @anonymous: platypus, which belongs to a class of its own.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Good but you need to add more classes. And Arthropods are a Sub-Phylum.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      how is milk in the animal kingdom

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Is there a furry animal that isn't a mammal?

    • MarkHansen profile image


      6 years ago

      Cool lens about a great topic!

    • CritterLover LM profile image

      CritterLover LM 

      6 years ago

      Cool lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      All I could think about when reading through this lense is pest control! Sure, some creatures are great, but most of them are just annoying.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Extremely knowledgeable and filled to the brim with information. This is a great lens packed with valuable read ups for anyone who is interested to know more about the variety of animals we see around the world. Thank you for organizing it so that we may pick up useful bits in a concise format.



    • BryanLSC profile image


      7 years ago

      the text for each of the classes is way too long, I'm immediately turned off although I'd like to learn more. If separated into paragraphs, then it'd be a great lens! Just a suggestion though

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Well laid out. Blessed by an April Fools angel. See this featured on my April Fools Angel Blessing lens as soon as it is published. Your blessing is coming first. So check back.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Really Great for kids of all age!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Awesome! Very helpful for students of all ages! :)

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi! I'm adding this to my lensography of animal education lenses.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I also placed this lovely lens into Angels Love Animals ( where the very best go

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      9 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      I am sooo impressed by this lens. It should win you a purple star! You've got my vote of approval.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 

      9 years ago from Croatia

      Love what you did with this lens! Blessed by an Angel!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I like this one mama!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      9 years ago from Massachusetts

      Interesting CSS/html, great work! I'm lensrolling this to my endangered species lens, and giving it a Squid Angel blessing!

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      What an industrious person you are! A lovely lens - blessed by an Angel today (/my-angel-blessings)


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