5 Animals of Temperate Grasslands and their Characteristics

Animals of temperate grasslands include; prairie dog, quail, coyote, skunk, and prairie rattlesnake.

This article discusses animals of temperate grasslands, as follows;




1). Prairie Dog (as one of the Animals of Temperate Grasslands)

The prairie dog is a herbivorous rodent with close geneological relationship to the squirrel, and ground-dwelling, burrowing behavior [1].

Prairie dogs live in open, vegetated habitats with few tall plants like trees, due to the fact that they are ground-dwellers and cannot thrive where there are many large obstacles.

The role of prairie dogs in the grassland ecosystem is multidimensional, and includes soil conservation, plant species diversification, mineral distribution and bioenergy cycling.

With regards to bioenergy, the prairie occupies the second trophic level of the energy pyramid in grasslands, and depend directly on plants for their survival. They in turn serve as food for predatory animals like the coyote, which occupy the higher levels of the pyramid.

Adaptations of prairie dogs include strong forelimb muscles and prominent claws for burrowing into the dry soil, color camouflage for concealment among grasses, low water consumption requirement, and strong hind limbs for short, rapid flight from predators.




2). Quail

The quail is a brown or biege-colored bird with a body length of 5 inches on average, which includes a long tail.

Quails are highly versatile in their ability to adapt and thrive in a variety of environments, including forests, human-modified vegetated lands, prairie grasslands and deserts.

The best habitat for quails is the grassland because of the presence of open pasture with sufficient camouflage and few trees to allow them feed on plant biomass and insects while being hidden from potential predators.

As earlier stated, quails are highly tolerant and adaptive. The lowest temperature condition under which a quail can survive effectively is about -29 °C, but this is only possible where the quail has abundant stored energy for warmth, access to food, and short-term exposure.

The characteristics of quails which are also adaptive features include; short, strong legs for ground locomotion, dull feathers for camouflage, and a long tail. Quails are among several birds that can be found in the temperate grassland ecosystem, alongside others like owls, hawks and blackbirds.




3). Coyote (as one of the Animals of Temperate Grasslands)

The coyote is a carnivorous mammal with close relationship and resemblance to wolves, but smaller in size, having reddish or buff-gray fur.

Like quails, coyotes are highly adaptive and versatile in their ability to survive in a wide range of environments that include tundra, forests, swamps, and human-modified areas where natural habitat has been lost to urbanization.

However, most coyotes live in open grasslands and remote areas prone to desertification, as these areas provide them with relatively-easy prey and suitable camouflage.

Coyotes as well as wolves have adapted to temperate grasslands as a result of multi-generational exposure that has helped them acquire thick fur, claws, and avid senses to protect them from the elements and enable them find food.

Animals like the prairie dog and quail are potential prey to coyotes.

Aside the coyote, other carnivores like foxes and mountain lions live in temperate grasslands.




4). Skunk

The skunk is an omnivorous mammal with solitary and docile behavioral characteristics, and a predominantly black coat that may be striped or spotted with white.

Skunks live in various habitats including human-modified areas, grasslands woodlands and forests.

Adaptations which a skunk has include nocturnal habits, and anal scent glands that produce a strong-smelling fluid to deter potential predators [2].

Animals of Temperate Grasslands: Skunk (Credit: http://www.birdphotos.com 2008 .CC BY 3.0.)
Animals of Temperate Grasslands: Skunk (Credit: http://www.birdphotos.com 2008 .CC BY 3.0.)





5). Prairie Rattlesnake (as one of the Animals of Temperate Grasslands)

The prairie rattlesnake is a pit viper that is highly venomous and grows to lengths of up to 5 feet.

Prairie rattlesnakes occur in parts of Canada like Alberta, and in Idaho and Texas in the United States. They are adapted to open grassland plains and deserts, where there is sufficient prey.

Most active periods for the Prairie rattlesnake range from nightfall till dusk, and spring to fall.

Like other temperate grassland animals, they have adaptive camouflage and keen sensory capabilities.

Animals of Temperate Grasslands: Prairie Rattlesnake (Credit: Yellowstone National Park 2022)
Animals of Temperate Grasslands: Prairie Rattlesnake (Credit: Yellowstone National Park 2022)







Animals of temperate grasslands are;

1. Prairie Dog

2. Quail

3. Coyote

4. Skunk

5. Prairie Rattlesnake






1). Kamyingkird, K.; Phoosangwalthong, P.; Klinkaew, N.; Leelanupat, A.; Kengradomkij, C.; Chimnoi, W.; Rungnirundorn, T.; Nimsuphan, B.; Inpankaew, T. (2022). "Detection of Giardia duodenalis Zoonotic Assemblages AI and BIV in Pet Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicanus) in Bangkok, Thailand." Animals (Basel). 2022 Jul 31;12(15):1949. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12151949. (Accessed 18 January 2023).

2). Schiefelbein, H.; Stankowich, T. (2016). "Aversive or Attractive? The Effects of Skunk Oil on Predator Behavior." Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference 27. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5070/V427110648. (Accessed 18 January 2023).

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