How Do Animals Decide Where to Live?

Updated: Dec 7, 2018

Animals big and small have one thing in common. They all need shelter!

Photo courtesy of Barbara Parisi

Some animals live in tall trees hidden in the branches. Some animals burrow deep underground. Others may enjoy a peaceful spot in a pond. Learn about different animal homes and how you can help make your backyard the perfect home for critter neighbors.

  • Woodchucks live in burrows. Burrows are underground holes and tunnels. Woodchuck burrows have an entrance, an exit and secret holes so they can quickly hide. They also make a bathroom and bedroom.

  • Snakes’ homes depend on their habitat. They may use a hole that a different animal dug, or they may rest under a log or rock.

  • Wasps can be solitary (live alone) or social (live in groups). Some social wasps build a nest by chewing up tree parts to make paper. A large wasp nest can hold up to 5,000 wasps including the queen.

  • Wood ducks do not build their nests but will use a natural tree cavity. Trees cavities are holes in trees where a branch fell off.

  • Grass spiders make a funnel-web on the ground. They are three-dimensional webs with a deep funnel where the spider hides.

  • Beavers build lodges or dig a bank burrow. The entrance to their home is under water to give them extra protection from predators.

  • American robins are amazing nest builders. They collect about 350 small twigs and dried grass fibers. They also make several hundred trips with their beaks full of mud. They carefully put these materials together to make sturdy nests.

  • Caddis fly larvae live on the bottom of rivers, lakes and ponds. They wear their homes. They collect little materials and secrete a sticky silk to build a protective case over their bodies.

  • For many bat species, the females and children live in groups together. They like tight dark places and have taken over human-built shelters in forest preserves.