Animals, Vocabulary Worksheets

Splendid Sloths – Vocabulary and ‘Slow’ Idioms Worksheet

Sloth climbing tree

Javier Mazzeo, @Unsplash


Fill the gaps with the following words:

belief, benefit, detection, hooked, lungs, mammal, moths, swivel, tinge, tropical, vulnerable, weigh     

Sloths have been around for over sixty million years, and until ten thousand years ago there was also even a giant sloth. These super-sized sloths called Megatherium could grow to the size of an elephant and a) __________ up to four tonnes!

Today sloths are found in the b) __________ forests of Central and South America. There are six species, two species are two-toed, and four are three-toed. Curiously though, it’s the number of claws on the forelimbs that is different, as all the species have three ‘toes’ on their back legs. So perhaps we should call them two-fingered and three-fingered sloths!

Sloths are named for their extreme slowness. The pygmy three-toed sloth is in fact the slowest c) _________ in the world, moving at a speed of only 0.24 km/h.

Contrary to popular d) __________, however, sloths aren’t lazy. Their slow-paced lifestyle is a vital part of their survival kit as it helps them conserve valuable energy. Another bonus of moving so slowly is that it helps them avoid e) __________ by formidable predators such as jaguars and harpy eagles who hunt using sight.

Not only are sloths slowcoaches, but their digestion is also very slow – it can take weeks to digest just one leaf!

You may have noticed that sloths often seem to have green fur. This green f) __________ comes from algae. It turns out that a sloth’s shaggy coat is quite the ecosystem – providing a home not only to algae, but also to fungi, g) __________, and other insects. In return, the green colour lends the sloths camouflage, helping them blend into the canopy. Sloths may also h) __________ by snacking on the algae or other inhabitants in their fur.

Thanks to their anatomical design, sloths are adept at hanging upside down. Organs such as the liver, stomach and bowel are attached to their rib cage which prevents them from squashing the animal’s i) __________ and impeding breathing. Their strong j) __________ claws allow them to latch onto branches securely and even to sleep suspended from the trees.

Another design attribute allows three-toed sloths to k) __________ their heads 270 degrees like owls, which may come in handy for keeping an eye out for predators.

Sloths are very cumbersome on the ground as they have little power in their hind legs.  However, they are actually pretty strong swimmers and can even hold their breath underwater for forty minutes!

Sloths may be slow but they are three times as strong as humans. They can lift their whole body upwards using just one arm!

Sloths only come down from trees in order to poop, which they do about once a week. They are extremely l) __________ to predators when they are on the ground and so will even give birth up in the trees!

B) Idioms with SLOW

Complete the idioms with one of the words in brackets.

1.  The government was criticised for being slow off the __________ in buying vaccines. They should have acted faster.  (line, mark, step)

2.  Maybe I’m slow on the __________take but I found the plot of the film really confusing at times. Didn’t you? (off, on, up)

3.  The book was slow __________ at first but then it started to get a lot more interesting. (go, going, gone)

4.  Come on, slow__________, hurry up and have your breakfast or you’re going to be late for school. (bus, car, coach)

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Fascinating Sharks: Vocabulary Worksheet with Fish Idioms

(Whale shark. Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri, Unsplash)

🖨 Scroll down for printable PDF version


PDF Printable – Fascinating-Sharks-Vocabulary-and-Idioms-Worksheet

Fill the gaps with these words:

diverse, fabrics, fearsome, flexible, kingdom, length, marine, prey, rough, rows, survived

Did you know that sharks are older than trees! They have been on our planet for around 450 million years and have a)_______________ several mass extinctions.

Unlike most fish, sharks have a skeleton made of cartilage and not bone. Cartilage is lighter than bone and much more b)_______________, which allows sharks to be more efficient swimmers. 

Whale sharks, which are the largest fish on earth, have huge mouths and about 300 c)_______________ of teeth, but these majestic creatures are docile and feed mostly on plankton.

Not all sharks are massive though. In fact they come in all sizes – the dwarf lanternshark is about the d)_______________ of a pencil!

Sharks have small tooth-shaped ‘scales’ on their skin known as dermal denticles. This is why their skin feels e)_______________ like sandpaper if you were to stroke them from tail to head. These ‘scales’ reduce friction allowing them to swim faster and in fact have inspired f) _______________ for Olympic swimsuits!

Sharks never run out of teeth. When they lose a tooth, it is replaced by a tooth from the row behind. They can go through thousands of teeth in a lifetime.

Sharks have a phenomenal sense of smell, one of the most powerful in the animal g) _______________. They can smell blood from hundreds of metres away.

They are also equipped with special sensory organs which allow them to detect electrical currents and vibrations in the water.  This gives them several advantages as hunters. For instance, it can help them detect the heartbeat of h)__________________ hiding under sand.

Not only are sharks fascinating creatures, but they have been a vital part of i)_______________ ecosystems for millions of years. One very important role they play is keeping other animal populations in check (= preventing them from expanding too much). This helps to ensure j)_______________ oceanic life.

Sharks have a k)_______________ reputation thanks in part to movies such as “Jaws” but most shark species are harmless, to humans at least. You are far more likely to be killed by a lightning strike, a bee or even a cow!

Not so fun fact

Alarmingly, shark populations have plummeted by 70% in just the last fifty years, mostly as a result of overfishing, bycatch* and shark finning. 100 million sharks are killed every year.

*Bycatch: the marine creatures caught unintentionally in commercial fishing operations


1. Karla is very nervous about her first public concert. It’s one thing to sing in front of friends and family but singing in front of a big crowd is a different __________ (bucket, kettle, pan) of fish

2. People were packed like __________ (cod, sardines, tuna) in the train so we decided not to get on and to wait for the next train.

3. I wouldn’t talk to the boss today about organising the office party. He’s got __________ (bigger, busier, grander) fish to fry (= more important things to do)

4. Harold needed money fast so he went to a loan __________ (leech, shark, squid) and now he has to pay it all back in a week with 400% interest!


A) a) survived b) flexible c) rows d) length e) rough f) fabrics
g) kingdom h) prey i) marine j) diverse k) fearsome

B) 1. kettle 2. sardines 3. bigger 4. shark

a different kettle of fish – a completely different situation

If people are packed (in) like sardines there are so many people in a space that it is difficult for them to move

If someone has bigger fish to fry, they have more important things to do

a loan shark is an illegal and sometimes dangerous lender

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Animals, Vocabulary Worksheets

Nature Vocabulary and Idioms Worksheet – Gentle Giraffes


Fill the gaps with the following words:

brain   calves   grasp   lethal   pattern   predators   resemblance   saliva   spread   swallow trait   twigs

Each giraffe has a unique a) ____________ of spots just like humans have distinct fingerprints.

The second part of their scientific name ‘giraffa camelopardalis’ originated from their
b) ____________ to a camel crossed with a leopard.

Just the neck of a giraffe is taller than most humans at about 2m. In order for the blood to be pumped all the way up to the c) ____________ , the giraffe has very high blood pressure, double that of humans.

Giraffes can comfortably walk at 15km/h and when they run they can reach speeds of up to 55km/h.

Giraffes have a rather curious way of walking: both legs on one side of the body move forward together and then the legs on the other side. This is a d) ____________ shared by cats and camels.

Since they are such large animals giraffes need a lot of fuel so they spend most of the day eating. They eat around 30kg of food a day – acacia leaves, e) ____________, fruits and flowers.

Like cows they are ruminants – their stomach has four compartments. They chew their food, f) ____________ it and then they regurgitate it (= bring the food back up into the mouth) to chew it again.

Giraffes produce a sticky g) ____________ which helps protect them from any thorns they might swallow when eating.

Despite their size, giraffes only need to drink water every few days which is fortunate as drinking from a watering hole is quite tricky because they have to h) ____________ out their front legs so that they can reach down to the water. Giraffes are also able to get water from the vegetation they eat.

Not only do giraffes have extremely long necks and legs but they also have a seriously long tongue – around 50cm. Their tongue is prehensile which means it is able to dexterously i) ____________ leaves and buds and pull them off.

Giraffes get by on very little sleep, just a couple of hours a day. They tend to sleep standing up as lying down makes them very vulnerable to j) ____________. They take short naps, sometimes lasting only 5 minutes!

Giraffes have a gestation period of about 15 months and they give birth standing up. The k) ____________ are already around 1.8m tall and are able to stand within an hour of being born!

Not known for being aggressive creatures they can defend themselves, however, with an extremely powerful kick which can be l) ____________.

B) Idioms with NECK

Underline the correct word to complete the  expression.

  1. Sorry, I can’t meet you for a coffee, I’m down / up to my neck in housework as we have guests coming to stay tonight.
  2. I need to buy a better pillow. It’s too high and I have a crack / crick in my neck every morning.
  3. Can you pick your toys up off the floor please! I’m going to break / stick  my neck one of these days.
  4. I’m going to be in your neck of the hoods / woods this weekend. Do you fancy meeting up for lunch?
  5. I’m not going to the party if Jeff is going to be there. That guy is a pain / sore in the neck.


A) a) pattern b) resemblance c) brain d) trait e) twigs f) swallow g) saliva h) spread i) grasp j) predators k) calves  l) lethal

B) 1) up to my neck (with a huge amount) 2) a crick in my neck (a stiff or painful neck)  3) break my neck (=hurt myself badly)  4) in your neck of the woods  (in your area, where you live/work) 5) a pain in the neck  (= really annoying)

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