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Image a some zebras drinking water.Tropical Savannah: Animals
The species of animals in a savanna depends upon the geographic location of the biome. The African savannah, the savannah with which most people are familiar, is home to a wide variety of animals. A short list of some of those animals includes wildebeest, warthogs, elephants, zebras, rhinos, gazelles, hyenas, cheetahs, lions, leopards, ostrich, mousebirds, starlings, and weavers.

Animal adaptations
During the rainy season, birds, insects, and both large and small mammals thrive in the savannah, but the rainy season only lasts 6 to 8 months. During the dry season, surface water from the rain is quickly absorbed into the ground because the soil is extremely porous. Competition for water during the dry season is intense. Consequently, most birds and many of the large mammals migrate during the dry season in search of water. Because drought conditions are sometimes localized, the migration may be just to another area within the savannah. When drought conditions exist for a long time and over a wide area, the animals may migrate to another biome until the rainy season begins again.

Image of two elephants.Although elephants do migrate, they have a physical adaptation that allows them to access water that is not available to other animals. Baobab trees store water in their large trunks. The elephant's physical strength and anatomy allow it to tear open the trunk of the baobab tree and to suck the water from it. An adaptation used by small burrowing animals is to remain dormant during times of drought--much like bears do during the winter in other biomes. Photos 2000-www.arttoday.com

During the dry season, lightning frequently ignites the brown, dry grasses that cover the savannah. Many of the animals have adapted to living with the fires. The ability to fly or to run fast enables most birds and large mammals to escape the flames. Some birds, such as the Fork-tailed Drongos, actually are attracted to the active fires. These birds feast on fleeing or flame-roasted insects. Although small burrowing animals may not be able to outrun the flames, they frequently survive the fire by digging beneath the soil and remaining there until the flames pass by them.

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Biomes | Biome Summary | How to Read a Climograph | Arctic Tundra | Deciduous Forest | Desert | Taiga | Tropical Rainforest | Tropical Savannah

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April 28, 2005

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