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IELTS & TOEFL Animals Vocabulary

One of the popular topics for IELTS & TOEFL is Zoology.

Animals Vocabulary


Reptiles – a class of animals that are cold-blooded, with scales
Amphibians – a class of animals that can live in the water and on land, no scales
Mammals — a class of warm-blooded, usually hairy animals, that feed their young with milk secreted by
the mammary glands of females
Fish — are vertebrates which live in water and respire (get oxygen) with gills.
Birds — a class of warm-blooded animals that can fly


there are three main types of mammal:
monotremes — egg-laying mammals
marsupials — pouched mammals
placental mammals — placental mammals

Body types

Homeotherms — animals that have a constant body temperature.
Poikilotherms — animals whose body temperature adjusts depending on the environment.
Endotherms/endothermic animals/warm-blooded animals – use internally generated heat to maintain body temperature. Their body temperature tends to stay steady regardless of the environment.
Ectotherms/ectothermic animals/cold-blooded animals – depend mainly on external heat sources and their body temperature changes with the temperature of the environment.


Binocular vision — seeing with two eyes that have an overlapping field of view; see stereoscopic vision
Foveal vison — capable of eye contact, focus, and acute sighting
Stereoscopic vision — the ability to see things in three dimensions; allows for depth perception; see binocular


Crepuscular — active at dawn and dusk
 — active by day
 — performing most actions (feeding, breeding, etc.) at night


Locomotion — the act of moving from place to place (swim, jump, walk, etc.)
— movement by use of forelimbs/arms, swinging from one handhold to another in trees (e.g.
Bipedal — moves upright on two feet (e.g. humans)
Palmigrade — walking with the palm of the hand down on the ground (e.g. apes)
Quadrupedal — moves with all four limbs for locomotion

Eating habits

Detritivore  — animals that feed on dead plant and animal matter
Insectivore — an animal that feeds on insects
— animals eating plants, leaves, and vegetation
Carnivores — animals feeding on other animals; flesh-eating
Omnivores — animals feeding on a variety of different foodstuffs, both animal and vegetable
Ruminant — a hoofed and herbivorous mammals that has a specialised digestive system with more than one stomach chamber
Predator — an animal which must hunt and kill other animals for food
Prey — an animal which is hunted by other animals for food


Enclosure — the man-made habitat of an animal in captivity
Biome — a group of areas with similar climates, weather patterns, seasons, and vegetation (tundra,
rainforest, etc.)
Environment — the total conditions in which an organism exists (climate, terrain, food, light, presence of
other living organisms)
Habitat — a place that contains all the nutrients, water, shelter, and resources that an individual needs to survive; the place in which an animal or plant normally eats, drinks, sleeps, and moves around
Territory — the space within an animal’s habitat that it actively defends
Terrestrial — of or relating to land as distinct from water or air; living on, or in, or growing from land



Camouflage — the color and patterns of animals’ skin, feathers, or fur which makes them harder to see
when in their natural surroundings
Disruptive coloration — color patterns that break up an animal’s outline– e.g. spots, stripes– often making individuals harder to discern in the wild


Feature — a part of the body
Fur – animal hair
Underfur — the dense layer of fur that is closet to the body of the animal to keep it warm
Feathers – long special hair on a bird
Proboscis  — the nose of an animal, or parts of the mouth which are nose-like in shape
Canines — four sharp, pointed teeth located between incisors and pre-molars
Opposable — one finger or toe capable of being placed against one or more of the remaining digits; used to grasp in the manner of a human thumb
Vestigal — a small or imperfectly developed body part or organ that remains from one more fully developed in an earlier stage of the individual, in a past generation, or in closely related forms
Hooves – animal feet, like horses and goats


Endangered — in peril or danger of extinction as a species
Extinct — plant or animal species that no longer exists
Prehensile — adapted for seizing or grasping, especially by wrapping around, e.g. tails of some New World monkeys
Domesticated – living in a house with people (such as pets)


Great apes — the gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos of Africa, and the orangutans of Southeast Asia; the largest apes
Lesser apes — the gibbons and siamangs of Southeast Asia; the smallest apes
Macaque — any of numerous short-tailed, Old World monkeys of Macaca and related genera having
distinctly ischial callosities and usually tufted eyebrow


Adaptation — genetically determined specialization of an animal’s physical structure or behavior which
helps the animal survive
Altricial — offspring born immature and helpless, requiring extensive care during growth and
development (birds, carnivores, primates, etc.)
Amphibian — a cold-blooded, smooth-skinned vertebrae such as a frog or salamander that hatches from
an egg with gills then transforms into an adult with air-breathing lungs.
Arboreal — living in trees and traveling mainly among tree branches
Behavior — any action performed by a living thing; anything that an organism does involving an action
or response to stimulation
Bushmeat — the meat of African wild animals (illegal commercial bushmeat is one of the most serious
threats to animals in Africa, exacerbated by logging and construction projects)
Climate — how the atmosphere behaves over relatively long periods of time; the prevailing set of
weather conditions in any place
Competition — the struggle between two or more living things using the same limited resource
Conservation — careful preservation and protection of something, especially planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect
Defenses — the methods or characteristics a living thing has to protect itself
Dimorphism — the existence of two different forms of a species in the same population; different color
(dichromatism) or size (sexual dimorphism) in animals and birds
Enrichment — Providing a challenging, stimulating, and beneficial activities, environments, and objects for Zoo animals; toys (made without tape, glue, or chemicals), habitat design, sensory awareness, increased food variety and foraging opportunities, interactivity, training and handling
Evolve — to change over a long period of time, through many generations
Groom — the cleaning of one animal by another (this seems to strengthen social bonds in some
primate species)
Keeper — an individual that cares for animals by providing all the care required to maintain an exotic animal in a healthy, caring environment (cleaning quarters, providing enrichment, feeding, etc.)
Lemur — arboreal primates now confined to Madagascar that are related to monkeys; resemble monkeys in general form and habits but usually have a fox-like muzzle, large eyes, wooly fur, and a tail which is sometimes rudimentary but is usually long, furry, and never prehensile
Monogamous — Having only one mate at a time (often misinterpreted as ‘mating for life’)
Polygamous — When male animals often made with several female animals throughout the breeding season
Niche — the place or role occupied by a species in the community structure of which it is a part; the way in which an organism utilizes its ecosystem
Natural selection — the survival of individuals or groups who are best adapted to their environment; this
process perpetuates desirable genetic qualities and eliminates undesirable ones
Oviparous — reproducing by laying eggs
Precocial — offspring capable of a high degree of independent activity from birth (prey animals such as zebra, bison, antelope, deer, giraffe, etc.)
Prosimian — a lower primate; includes lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, and many fossil forms
Temperate — having a climate which does not get extremely hot or cold


For both TOEFL and IELTS it’s extremely important to be able to paraphrase. Study synonymic words and collocations and make them a part of your active vocabulary to succeed at the exam.

herbivores = herbivorous animals = the plant eaters
omnivores= omnivorous animals=eat both meat and plants
carnivores = predators = the meat eaters
endotherms = endothermic animals = warm-blooded animals
ectotherms = ectothermic animals = cold-blooded animals

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