Animal Defenses: Teeth, Tusks and Camouflage

Animal Defenses: Teeth, Tusks and Camouflage from

Imagine how you would feel living in the wild with potential danger lurking around every corner.  Maybe someone would try to take your mate, steal your food, or sneak up on you to see if you were tasty. That’s how wild animals feel every minute of every day.  Luckily, they have developed several defense mechanisms to help them deal with these threats.  In this post, we’re going to focus on teeth, tusks, and camouflage.


Male Lion - showing his large, sharp canine teeth while yawning

Sharp teeth are mostly found in animals who eat meat.  They are used for the tearing and chewing of prey, but pointed teeth can also come in handy if an animal needs to defend itself.  Some animals flash their pearly whites to demonstrate fear, such as a grimace, used by several species of monkeys.  In other instances, though, large teeth are a very clear demonstration of power, and the animal’s willingness to use it!

Lions aren't the only animals who use sharp teeth for defense.  Sharks are famous for the use of their chompers!  Make this adorable shark craft from Hello Wonderful with your kids.


Elephants using their tusks for defense

Tusks are one of the most obvious defenses in the animal world.  Elephants are a classic example of a tusked animal, although narwhals, the unicorns of the sea, are another species who sport tusks.  While narwhal tusks are elongated canine teeth, those of elephants are actually elongated incisors that never stop growing!

Elephants use their tusks for daily tasks, such as digging, gathering food, and stripping bark from trees. Tusks are used in displays of social dominance, as they are here, and are also utilized in self defense against attackers.

  • Elephants are revered in many cultures.  This beautiful project from Kid World Citizen allows your kids to be creative and also teaches them about the cultural significance of elephants in many parts of the world.  But don't forget to add the tusks!
  • Walruses have tusks too! Learn more about them over at National Geographic Kids.


Mom and baby sloth with camouflaged coat, intertwined with algae

Although it’s hard to imagine, sloths move SO slowly that algae has time to grow on their fur as they cling to the trees!  This algae provides two benefits - it’s a food source for their young and it also provides camouflage, making the sloth more difficult to find (and eat!).  Since sloths are incapable of escaping predators, they blend in with their environment instead.  

  • Chameleons are the master of camouflage, changing the pigment in their skin to match their surroundings.  Try this fun craft from No Time for Flashcards to make a chameleon (or any other animal!) with your kids.  
  • If you want to head outdoors, we love this nature play dough craft from Mother Natured.

After sharing this post with your kids, help them to leave a comment below with their favorite examples of animals with sharp teeth, tusks or camouflage.  We can't wait to hear their ideas!

Michelle Stern
Michelle Stern




September 11, 2017

How fascinating!!!! I’ve always thought it was fascinating how animals can blend in with their surroundings

Bree Courtney
Bree Courtney

September 10, 2017

My daughter loves cheetahs sharp teeth, elephants tusks and tree frogs camouflage. What a fun educational article!

Maria Magdalena
Maria Magdalena

September 10, 2017

“Shark!” That’s my kid said about the animal with sharp teeth!

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