Animals Living in Meadows

This article offers a survey of animals living in meadows. It provides information on the functions of grasslands and what they offer to animals. At first sight, meadows do not appear particularly interesting: some grass, some plants and small animals. Yet, meadows offer a habitat for the most diverse animal species. Next time you are passing a piece of meadows, you should kneel down and have a close look at all the plants and animals. It’s definitely worth it! Meadows can often be found next to forests or hedge. Would you like to know which animals are living in the forest and, which animals are living in hedges?

Animals living in meadows Animals living in meadows - Photo: Yellowj/Shutterstock

Meadow Facts
Species living in meadows ca. 3,500 animal species
Meadows provide animals with
  • spaces for nesting and breeding
  • protection against the weather and animals of prey
  • food
  • shelter during the winter
Meadows provide the environment with
  • protection against flooding
  • protection of the soil
  • climate protection, „air filter“
  • oxygen production
The Layers

Just like a building, a meadow consists of several “floors” or layers. The lowest layer is called parent material, then follow the subsoil, topsoil and leaf litter. There are different types of meadows: wet meadows, meadows with scattered fruit trees, dry grasslands and nutrient-poor grasslands.

Layers in a meadow Layers in a meadow - Illustration: Silke/

1. Soil Layer

The soil stabilizes the plants and provides them with water and nutrients. The animals in the ground ensure the air circulation within the soil by breaking it up (mole, earthworm). Rabbits, large earth bumblebees and mice also find shelter and protection underground.

Animals in the Soil Layer: Earthwormmole, bicolored shrew, vole, mole cricket, field mouse, rabbit, ants, large earth bumblebees

Mole Mole - Photo: Santia/Shutterstock

2. Litter Layer

There is a litter layer on the ground of the meadow, which is mainly populated by beetles, crickets and other insects. They are looking for food and shelter and also lay their eggs there.

Animals in the Litter Layer: Ground beetle, millipede, field cricket, woodlouse, slug, ground-breeding birds (whinchat, short-eared owl), common lizard, grass snake, common viper, frog

Common Lizard Common Lizard - Photo: MirceaC/Shutterstock

3. Leaves and Stems of Grasses

This is often the habitat of spiders that build their webs there – much to the chagrin of the small insects that also search this layer for plants to feed on.

Animals Living Among Leaves and Stems of Grasses: Cross spider, wasp spider, grasshopper, caterpillar, bug, cicada, leaf beetle, plant louse, ladybug, meadow froghopper, mouse weasel

Ladybug Ladybug - Photo: Christian Mueller/Shutterstock

4. Layer of Blossoms

Indicates the layer with the blossoms and their tasty nectar. This is why it is mainly populated by bees and bumblebees – but also by smart hunters such as the crab spider. It uses the colors of the blossoms as a camouflage, so that their victims often only notice them when it’s too late.

Animals in the Layer of Blossoms: Wild bee, bumblebee, longhorn beetle, flower chafer, crab spider, wasp, hornet, firefly

Honey Bee Honey Bee - Photo: szefei/Shutterstock

Interesting Facts About Meadows

We distinguish between several kinds of meadows according to their composition and usage:

  • flower meadow: scattered with many blossoming plants
  • wet meadows: located in river valleys or near lakes, they occasionally get flooded
  • salt meadows: located near the sea, occasionally flooded by saltwater
  • fertile meadows: fertilized meadow, rich in nutrients
Did You Know?
  • Meadows do not develop naturally, they are cultivated and maintained by humans.
  • If a meadow does not get mown, it will disappear and get overgrown with shrubs and trees.
  • In Germany, meadows and paddocks cover about 5 million hectare of land.

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