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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

9 Unusually Detailed Animal Habitats

See how birds, oysters, snails, caterpillars, moths, and more rely on their inventive natures to create the perfect nesting place.

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Ingo Arndt

Male Baya Weaver

A male Baya Weaver in Namibia builds a waterproof nest from blades of grass that dry in the sun. Then his intended mate decides whether it’s good enough. If she rejects it, he might tear it apart and start over.

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Ingo Arndt

Carrier Snails

Carrier snails make mobile castles by mounting pebbles and mollusk shells on their cases. It can take a snail ten hours to mount each new object, with the help of sticky secretions.

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Ingo Arndt

Thorny Oyster

Lime (a calcium compound) is used in human-home construction, but sea creatures such as this thorny oyster in Thailand rely on it as well; in fact, sea organisms have been building body shells from lime for estimated 600 million years.

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Ingo Arndt


Moths have their own artistry. Buff-tip moth larvae in Hungary live together and build a protective web around their fodder plant.

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Ingo Arndt

Penduline Tit

This Eurasian Penduline Tit nest, made with poplar and willow seeds, is nearly predator-proof because of its shape and tight weave.

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Ingo Arndt


A Steely-vented Hummingbird nest in Central America is made from plant fibers, moss, and animal hair. It’s well camouflaged in a shrub, bush, or tree, and is built to stretch to almost double its size as the chicks grow. Only the females are involved in nest-building.

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Ingo Arndt

Reed Warbler

True to her name, the Eurasian Reed Warbler builds her cup-shaped nest on reeds; both mom and dad incubate and feed the babies. Unfortunately, these elegant dwellings attract unwanted house guests: European cuckoos like to deposit one of their own eggs here, leaving the “foster parents” to nurture their newborns.

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Ingo Arndt

Baya Weaver

Weaver nests hang from trees and are sometimes joined to make communal homes.

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Ingo Arndt


Having reached caterpillar stage, the future moths feed in the open.

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Ingo Arndt

Animal Architecture

To see more wild animal artistry, pick up “Animal Architecture” here.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest