This collection of worksheets offer short reading passages about prominent North American wildlife, including moose, mountain lions, wolves, multiple species of bears, and more. Students will learn about the habitats, diets, and distinguishing characteristics of each animal, and will have the opportunity to answer questions about them. Two different answer sheets-one multiple choice and one short answer-accompany each passage. Answer keys have been provided for each sheet. Wild animals are dangerous, but most want nothing to do with humans. If you see an animal in the wild, leave it alone.
The most populous bear in North America is the black bear. Black bears can be found in nearly every state in the United States, most Canadian provinces and even some areas of Mexico.
Even though their name is black bear, these bears can have different coat colors. In addition to an all-black coat, there are cinnamon, blonde and chocolate brown black bears.
Black bears hibernate during the winter months. During the summer and fall they eat enough food to last through the winter.
Africa is known for its Big Cats like the lion, leopard and cheetah and the major wild feline of Asia is the tiger.
Mountain lions are two to two and a half feet tall at the shoulder and range in length from five to eight feet.
The mountain lion is built to capture prey. This carnivore has a powerful jaw for gripping prey as well as a strong neck and sturdy legs for running.
The largest member of the deer family, an adult male North American moose stands up to seven feet tall at the shoulder and weighs 850 to a whopping 1600 pounds.
Besides their large size, moose have unique antlers. While deer have branchlike antlers, moose have palmate antlers.
Moose generally have a dark brown coat of fur. Unlike their cousins the whitetail deer, moose live a solitary life and do not form herds.
The North American bison, also called the American buffalo, is a symbol of the American West in the mid-1800s.
Bison are large herbivores that feed on grasses and sedges. Adult bison are large animals, standing over six feet tall at the shoulders and can be over eleven feet in length. A mature male buffalo can weigh over 2,000 pounds.
An interesting behavior of bison is that they enjoy wallowing. This means that they roll themselves in dust or mud.
Although wolves were once common throughout the United States, North American wolves now live mostly in the uninhabited portions of Canada and Alaska.
Wolves are powerful animals that cover miles of territory at a trot of about 6 miles per hour. Their speed can increase to 40 miles per hour when chasing prey.
Wolves also have large paws that grip slippery surfaces well. There is even webbing between their toes that gives wolves better traction in the snow.
Wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family but look like a small bear. Other names for the wolverine include carcajou, skunk bear, and quickhatch.
Wolverines have good hearing but poor eyesight. Wolverines have an excellent sense of smell that is used to locate prey and carrion.
The coyote is an adaptable animal and lives successfully throughout North America and as far south as Panama in Central America.
Coyotes have a variety of coat colors depending on their habitat. For example, coyotes that live in the mountains or forest have a darker brown coat but coyotes that live in the desert are yellowish tan in order to blend better with the landscape.
Coyotes usually eat any kind of small mammal that they can catch, including rodents, rabbits, squirrels, voles, and prairie dogs.
Almost all the snakes in the United States are harmless. There are only four kinds snakes in the U.S. that have venom that is fatal to humans: the cottonmouth water moccasin; the coral snake; the copperhead; and the rattlesnake.
There are sixteen species of rattlesnakes in the United States and all rattlesnakes have a triangular head and a set of rattles at the end of their tails.
Rattlesnakes have a forked tongue that it uses for obtaining information about the scents nearby.
One of the largest North American carnivores is the grizzly bear. Grizzly bears derive their name from the gray hairs in their fur.
Grizzly bears are omnivorous, which means they eat plants, berries, fish and other mammals.
Grizzly bears are different from other species of brown bears. Besides having grizzled fur, grizzly bears have a large hump over their shoulders.
The polar bear derives its name from its habitat in the frozen areas around the North Pole in the countries of the United States (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Greenland and Norway.
Polar bears are carnivores, which means they only eat meat. Their favorite meal is seals. Seals are marine mammals that live in the artic waters.
Polar bears live near the edge of the ice instead of further inland so that they can hunt for seals
The Most Common North American Animals
North America is home to many distinct and fascinating animals. North American wildlife includes species that are unique to the continent and cannot be found anywhere else.
Here are five of the most common North American animals:
- Bald eagle.
- American alligator.
- Brown bear.
- American bison.
The rest of this article will explain each of these North American animals in more detail.
1. Bald Eagle
The bald eagle is the third-largest eagle species in the world. A grown male is almost a meter (36 inches) in height, with a wingspan of two meters (6.6 feet). It is endemic to North America and has been the national symbol of the United States since 1782.
Bald eagles live close to lakes and rivers where they can hunt for fish, which is their primary food source. Often, they snatch the prey out of the claws of other hunters, like ospreys.
If you look at this magnificent bird, you will notice that it is not bald at all but has a beautiful white-feathered head that contrasts its dark brown body. The eagle got its name from the old English word 'balde,' which means 'white.'
2. American Alligator
The American alligator lives in the South of the US and is solely native to North America. The species is over 150 million years old, meaning it used to live side-by-side with dinosaurs and survived the asteroid cataclysm.
The alligator lives in rivers, lakes, and swamps but is semi-aquatic and only swims with its eyes and nostrils above water.
American alligators are excellent hunters, and there is little limit to their prey. Their diverse diet includes snakes, lizards, turtles, fish, water birds, and mammals.
3. Brown Bear
The grizzly bear and Kodiak bear are the subspecies of the brown bear found in North America.
The average grizzly bear is 6.6 feet (2 meters) in height, while the Kodiak bear can grow to be over 10 feet (3 meters) tall, making it the world's largest bear species along with polar bears.
While grizzlies are fast and powerful, which makes them great hunters, their diet mainly consists of fruit, berries, and nuts. Kodiak bears have similar eating habits, with a great variety of food available at their isolated home, the Kodiak islands.
Though Kodiak bears are huge, they rarely attack humans due to their reclusive way of life. Grizzly bears, however, are responsible for the majority of bear attacks in North America and are known to be highly aggressive.
Moose are the largest among the deer species, with an average height of 6 feet (1.8 meters). The males have massive antlers that not only help attract females during the breeding season but also channel sound to moose's ears. Moose shed the antlers during winter and grow them back during springtime.
Despite their large size, moose are excellent swimmers. They live in the northern regions and often look for food among aquatic plants during warmer seasons when the ice melts. Moose also feed on shrubs, grass, and pinecones.
5. American Bison
American bison are often mistaken for buffaloes; however, they are a different species. Unlike buffaloes, who have large and arced horns, bison possess horns of smaller size, that are sharp and curved. Also, buffaloes are not present in North America; they are indigenous to Africa and South Asia.
Bison are 5 to 6.5 feet (1.5 to 2 meters) tall and can weigh over a ton. They are the largest land animals in North America. Still, they can be fast and run at a speed of 40 miles an hour (64 km an hour) when needed.
Bison are well-known for wallowing or rolling in dirt or dust. They do it if they experience skin irritation to stop insects from biting them while losing their winter fur.