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Water Bears: Tardigrada

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Water Bears And People, Giant Yellow Water Bear (richtersius Coronifer): Species AccountGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS


Water bears are found on all continents and in all oceans.

Water bears require water and are found in a wide variety of marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats. Some species live in hot, radioactive springs, while other live in ice caves formed by glaciers and other sheets of ice. Many marine species are found along beaches. Those living on land are found in primitive plants and plantlike organisms growing on rocks, logs, and soil, such as mosses, liverworts, and lichens.

Water bears eat plants, microscopic animals, and bacteria. Terrestrial species either suck juices from mosses and lichens or eat bacteria growing on these organisms. Some marine species are parasites (PAIR-uh-sites) and live and feed on other animals, such as sea cucumbers and barnacles. A few species rely on bacteria living inside special organs in their heads to provide nutrition in the form of proteins and sugars.

No water bears are considered endangered or threatened.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMollusks, Crustaceans, and Related Species