Which animals are mammals?

Nature Lab activity: What makes a mammal a mammal?

Mammals are a fascinating group of animals. There are aquatic mammals (such as dolphins), semi-aquatic mammals (such as the beaver), terrestrial mammals (such as the chimpanzee and tapir) and mammals that fly (bats).

But what exactly is a mammal? We challenge you to find out!

Do research about the group of animals called mammals. To do your research you can use books at home, visit your local library or use online nature resources (like Mongabay Kids). 

Write your findings down in a notebook or create an awesome poster for your bedroom or classroom.

Use these questions to guide your research:

  1. What characteristics (or traits) define a mammal? What makes a mammal different from a bird or an insect? What do baby mammals eat?
  2. How many types of mammals are known to science? 
  3. What do mammals look like? Mammals can be humongous (elephant, blue whale), teeny (shrews), and every size in between. They can have dense fur (otter) or be nearly hairless (hippo, naked mole rat). Draw a variety of mammal species to show how different mammals can look.
  4. Where do mammals live? Are there any habitats where mammals are not found?
  5. What are your favorite mammals?
  6. Are humans mammals?

Challenge question: What are placental mammals, marsupials and monotremes?

Tell your friends and family what you learned about mammals!

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