Jones, Hugh D. School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.
Last reviewed:February 2021
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- Terrestrial burrowers
- Aquatic burrowers
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Any terrestrial or aquatic animal that is capable of excavating holes in the ground for protection from adverse environmental conditions, as well as for storing food. Burrowing animals are uniquely adapted species, having the capacity to dig burrows for protective purposes, as well as for nesting, hibernation, warmth, and food storage. Burrows vary from temporary structures of simple design (for example, the nesting burrows of some birds) to more permanent underground networks that may be inhabited for several generations (for example, rabbit warrens, badger sets, fox earths, and prairie dog burrows; Fig. 1). They vary in structure from blind burrows with a single opening to extensive systems with several openings. Some animals (for example, various species of moles) live permanently underground, and their burrows have no obvious large openings to the surface. Burrows may be shared by a number of species, and abandoned burrows may be used by other species. Animals with limbs usually excavate their burrows by using their legs, but many burrowing animals are limbless and the mechanism of progression is not always obvious. See also: Adaptation (biology); Ecology; Hibernation and estivation
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