Key points

  • Animals are living things belonging to the animal kingdom.
  • They can be vertebrates (with a backbone) or invertebrates (without a backbone).
  • Animals are classified according to their kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus and species.
  • Animals have many different characteristics and behaviours.
  • All animals have a life cycle.
  • The environment that an animal lives in is called a habitat.
  • Australia is well-known for it's unique animals.
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Elephant mother and young

Classification of animals

All animals are classified into groups (categories) based on their similar characteristic. This is called animal classification. See a diagram of animal classifications.

Vertebrates are classified as chordata (with backbones) and include reptiles, fish, birds, mammals (humans are in this group) and amphibians (frogs and toads).

Two of the more familiar groups of invertebrates (animals without backbones) are arthropods and molluscs. Arthropods include insects, arachnids (spiders and scorpions), crustaceans (crabs and lobsters), while molluscs include snails and slugs, clams and the octopus. Many animals also have special names for their male, female, young and groups.

The scientific study of animals is a part of biology called zoology. Ethology is the study of animal behaviour.

Needs of animals

Animals have basic needs. Try this activity on basic needs. The eating needs of animals forms part of a food chain. Camouflage is important for animal survival.

Characteristics and behaviours

Animals move, breathe and feed in different ways. Watch how animals move underwater. Some animals have even set world records.




Life cycles

All animals have a life cycle. See the zoo animal life cycle and the life of a bug.


Every animal has a habitat. See how animals plan their homes. Find out about animals in particular habitats. Try this activity on human and animal needs and habitats.

Animals adapt to different environments. Try these adaption activities. Find out about the amazing senses of a range of animals. Watch this slide show on animal biodiversity.

A young red kangaroo


We observed much to our surprise that instead of  going upon all fours this animal went only upon two hind legs, making vast bounds.Sir Joseph Banks referring to what the natives called a "kangaroo".  On Captain James Cook's voyage to Australia in 1770.
  • A number of Australia's early scientists were experts on Australian animals.
  • There are a number of zoos in Australia. Check out Taronga Zoo. Look at fact sheets on native animals of NSW. Find out about Australian birds and bugs.
  • What are some of the threats to wildlife? Learn about Australia's threatened species and check the list of endangered and extinct animals. Find out about NSW and Queensland animal research, Amphibian research  and Koala research.

Art and craft activities

Learn how to draw animals, do animal craft or check the kids' pages from San Diego Zoo.

Photos and video

More information




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Doing it by the book

As a parent it's only natural to want to help your child, but when it comes to homework and study, the completed work should be theirs.

Here are some important points to remember to ensure your child is following good practice for a lifetime of learning.