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Wetlands: Species -- Animals
Wetlands animals often rely on wetlands plants, as well as other animals, as food resources. For example, crayfish live in wetlands; raccoons live near wetlands so they can eat the crayfish; and panthers live near wetlands so that they can eat the raccoons. Similar food chains tie many animals to wetlands.

Many wetlands animals have also developed complex adaptations that enable and sometimes even require them to live in wetlands. For example, amphibians and some insects lay their eggs in water. These eggs hatch and the emerging larva have gills through which they "breathe" oxygen from the water. The larva grow and undergo a metamorphosis into air-breathing terrestrial adults. Once adults, these organisms continue to live their lives near aquatic ecosystems such as a wetlands so that they can lay their eggs in the water.

Common types of wetlands animals include:

insects small invertebrates that generally have three body segments, only three pairs of legs, and often one or two pairs of wings; for example, butterflies and beetles.

reptiles air-breathing, cold-blooded, vertebrates; for example, alligators, snakes, and turtles.

amphibians cold-blooded vertebrates that have gilled aquatic larvae and air-breathing adults; for example, salamanders and frogs.

mammals warm-blooded vertebrates that nourish their young with milk secreted by mammary glands and generally have hairy skin; for example, raccoon and deer.

Image of a great blue heron. birds warm-blooded vertebrates that have wings and feathers; for example, ducks and great blue herons. Photo: Great blue heron. Photo courtesy of Robert Coggeshall, Youngstown, Ohio.

spiders small, silk-spinning invertebrates that have two body segments and four pairs of legs.

fish cold-blooded, aquatic vertebrates; for example, trout and bass.

shellfish aquatic invertebrates that have shells; for example, shrimp.

For more images and information on some of these wetlands animals, visit Life in Wetlands.

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