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Why do animals leave seeds behind?
Question Date: 2016-03-08
Answer 1:

I’m glad you asked. I love to talk about animal behavior and how animals and plants interact.

There are lots of ways that animals can leave seeds behind because there are many types of seeds and many types of animals. Try to think of all of the seeds you can. There are tiny seeds like poppy seeds on a bun. There are giant seeds like coconuts. There are seeds surrounded by fruit, like the ones in avocados. There are seeds on the outside of strawberries. Some seeds have no fruit at all, like acorns or grass seeds. Maple and dandelion seeds blow in the wind. Lotus seeds float on the water. What other seeds did you think of?

Have you ever walked through a field and gotten burrs, thistles, or cheat grass seeds stuck on your socks? These seed have evolved to be carried by animals. Mammals get them caught in their fur. Birds get them caught in feathers. The seed may fall off in a new place, or the animal may scrape or bite them off.

Some seeds are moved on purpose by animals. Squirrels bury nuts to eat later, but sometimes these nuts are left behind. Birds like nutcrackers put acorns into trees. Ants and packrats take seeds back to their homes. Sometimes they don’t eat the seeds and they sprout.

Animals might carry seeds and fruit off to a nice place to eat. A monkey may eat a mango and drop the seed neat its eating spot.

Sometimes animals swallow a seed whole. A raccoon might eat blackberries. A robin might eat strawberries. The seeds go right through the animal’s digestive system without being damaged. When the animal defecates (poops), the seeds go wherever the animal “goes.” Some seeds won’t even sprout unless they have gone through an animal’s gut.

Why do you think plants are better off if some of their seeds get carried away?

Thanks for asking.

Answer 2:

Seeds attach to the fur of animals to move around, since the plants can't move around themselves.

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