Manatee Facts for Kids

Do you live in Florida? If so, did you know that there is a manatee hotline you can call to report any and all manatee sightings? That’s because manatees, especially the Florida manatees, are super cool and gentle creatures that everybody loves! The best part is, there is so much we can learn about manatees so let’s dive right into these manatee facts for kids.

Manatees as Gentle Giants

Manatees are marine mammals. Although adult manatees are some of the largest aquatic mammals out there, manatees are surprisingly gentle creatures. They have earned the nickname of gentle giants. You may have also heard the manatees referred to as sea cows or “mermaids of the sea”. Did you know of any of these nicknames?

The Size of Manatees

On average, manatees weigh about 1000 pounds although some of the heaviest manatees can weigh upwards of 1300 pounds. That’s almost a ton!

Manatees can range in length from 8 to 13 feet long!

The male manatee is typically larger than the females and is more likely to grow tusks than a female manatee. Tusks grow out near the nose and can be upwards of 8 inches long on some male manatees.

Manatee Facts for Kids – Manatee Diets

Manatees are primarily herbivores meaning they only eat plants. Manatees can often be found munching on small plants and aquatic plants, such as turtle grass, sea grass, mangrove leaves, and water lettuce. However, some species of manatees are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. These animals include fish and other small marine life.

Manatees are one of the few animals that can drink salt water and fresh water.

One of the coolest facts about manatees in my opinion is that they have two stomachs! That’s right! A manatee has one stomach for digesting vegetation and another stomach for digesting other things they eat, like fish.

Manatee Movement

Manatees have a slow metabolism and can sleep underwater for up to 20 minutes at a time. Could you imagine sleeping underwater?

Manatees are migratory animals and often travel long distances in search of food. Typically, they stick to shallow, slow-moving waters where they can find plenty of plants to eat.

To swim and propel themselves through the water, the manatees rely on their paddle-like tail to give them short bursts of speed and transport themselves long distances.

Some manatees have been known to jump out of the water and perform acrobatic stunts. I have to say it would be pretty cool to see this. What do you think? Would you want to see a manatee jump above the surface of the water?

Manatee Facts for Kids – Characteristics of Manatees

  • Manatees have thick layers of blubber to keep them warm in cold water and harsh weather.
  • Manatees use their vibrissae (whiskers) to feel their way around in the dark and find food. How cool is that?
  • Manatees can live up to 60 years in the wild.

Manatee Communication

Have you ever seen the snout of a manatee? A manatee’s snout is important to exploring their surroundings and helping them hunt for food. Some manatees even use their snout and upper lip to play games with other manatees.

Manatees communicate with each other using a variety of sounds, including whistles, chirps, and barks. That’s right! Manatees can bark like a dog.

Manatee Facts for Kids – Baby Manatees

Baby manatees are called calves and weigh around 25 pounds at birth. That’s one big baby!

Manatees give birth to one calf at a time after a gestation period of 12 to 13 months. Manatees have one of the longest gestation periods out of both sea creatures and land animals.

Calves nurse for up to two years. They stay with their mothers during this time. This is very similar to other large aquatic mammals and human activities.

Interesting Facts About Manatees and the Dangers They Face

Manatees are susceptible to a variety of diseases. Some of the main threats to manatees include red tide poisoning, manatee cold syndrome, and tuberculosis.

They often get sunburned because they don’t have thick hairs to protect them from the sun.

Manatees are listed as a endangered species due to habitat destruction, boat collisions, and entanglement in fishing gear.

More Fun Facts About the Manatee Species

The manatee is the state marine mammal of Florida. They are located in both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

There is a manatee sanctuary in Crystal River, Florida where tourists can swim with manatees. Would you want to swim with the manatees?

Let’s Summarize Manatee Facts for Kids!

Manatees are a fascinating large aquatic mammal. Their overwhelming size and body weight makes them appear as threatening, but they are actually some of the most gentle animals and are referred to as the gentle giants of the sea.

They are herbivores, meaning they eat ocean plants and have few natural predators. More of their threats come from natural problems and humans. It is important we protect the manatees by keeping their environment clean and healthy. Just as we clean our homes, it’s important to keep the ocean clean since that is home to manatees and several other ocean animals. We can do this by picking up our trash, cleaning up oil spills and lost fishing materials. If you just pick up a few pieces of trash each day, you can make a huge difference! Encourage your friends and family to do the same to protect not just the ocean environment but out environment too! You’d be surprised by how much we can achieve if we work together and hopefully, we can save the manatees!


Check out these fun facts for kids here and browse all the other topics at the bottom of the post.