Many animals throughout the world go into hibernation or migrate to warmer climates during the winter. But some other animals seem to thrive best when the temperatures drop and the snow piles high. In this article, we’ll talk more about some of these animals that live in the snow.
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Animals That Live In The Snow
1. Arctic Foxes
As the name suggests, arctic foxes live in arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. They are specially adapted for surviving and thriving in snow and extreme temperatures.
For one thing, their fur coat is very thick, and it provides an insulating layer against the elements. They also have fuzzy paws with thickly-insulated soles to protect them from frostbite.
What’s more, their metabolisms are high, which allows them to produce more body heat. This in turn helps to keep them warm.
Arctic foxes turn pure white in the winter to help them blend in with their snow-covered environment. They can survive temperatures as cold as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Arctic Hares
Interestingly, arctic hares don’t hibernate in the winter like other rabbit species do. Instead, these adorable cold-weather bunnies have adapted to not only surviving but remaining active year-round in some of the coldest places on earth.
Like arctic foxes, arctic hares are covered in thick fur that turns white in the winter. They also have shorter ears than most rabbits, which keeps the amount of cold air getting into their bodies to a minimum.
Arctic hares are able to run and jump extremely quickly even in snowy conditions. When attempting to escape predators, they can move up to 40 miles per hour!
There are various species of penguins that call the snowy arctic and tundra regions of the world home. Some of these species include emperor penguins and gentoo penguins.
Penguins must survive temperatures that can fall as far as -76 degrees Fahrenheit. They are specially adapted to these conditions.
For one thing, they have small heads and extremities which help to limit heat loss. They have several layers of thick feathers to help hold in body heat, and their black feathers can help them absorb more of the heat from the sun.
They also have thick fat stores in their body. These fat stores hold heat exceptionally well and provide yet another insulating layer against the cold and snow.
Some penguins also cluster together, using their collective body heat to shield each other from the cold. They take turns moving from the inside to the outside of their clusters in order to share the warmth.
Penguins are known for sliding over the snow on their bellies, as seen in the following video. They do this to help them get from one place to another more quickly.
4. Polar Bears
One of the most well-known snow animals, polar bears live in the arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. These giant white bears have a number of adaptations that allow them to survive the long, cold, snowy winters.
Like penguins, polar bears have a thick, insulating layer of fat to help keep them warm. They also have exceptionally thick fur.
Their fur is oily, which keeps them dry when they go swimming in cold waters and also provides an extra layer of insulation.
Polar bears are the top predators of the arctic regions. They spend much of their time hunting for seals and other food sources.
Walruses also live in cold, snowy regions of the Arctic. These unique looking animals can weigh up to 2,000 pounds.
The main reason for this impressive weight is the layers of fat and blubber under their skin. This flat and blubber keeps them warm, allowing them to live in harsh environments and swim in icy waters.
6. Snow Leopards
Snow leopards are found only in mountainous regions of northern Asia. They are called snow leopards because their pebbly white or gray fur allows them to blend in easily with their snowy environment.
They blend in so well, in fact, that they are sometimes called “ghosts of the mountain.”
Snow leopards have thick fur to help insulate their bodies from the cold. They are meat eaters, so the food they eat also helps them to generate body heat to keep themselves warm.
7. Snowy Owl
Snowy owls are adorable birds with cute, round faces. They are found within the arctic circle but sometimes migrate to northern parts of the United States, as well as parts of Europe and Asia, for the winter.
Snowy owls weigh more than any other owl–a whopping 4 pounds on average–because of their thick layers of feathers. These feathers help to keep them warm.
Another thing that sets snowy owls apart is that they aren’t nocturnal. This is thought to be an adaptation due to the long hours of daylight in arctic regions.
Snowy owls are mostly white so they can blend in with their snow-covered habitats.
8. Collared Lemming
Collared lemmings live in the arctic tundra. They are a major source of food for snowy owls and other predators.
Like many other animals on this list, these large rodents turn white in the winter to blend in with their snowy surroundings. They have thick fur to insulate against the cold.
Collared lemmings are known for tunneling and burrowing. In the winter, they often create vast networks of tunnels through the snow.
9. Musk Oxen
Musk oxen also live in arctic regions, but unlike many animals on this list, they do not turn white in the winter. They are covered in extremely thick layers of dark fur.
They stay warm by clustering together in large herds, using their collective body heat to keep them from freezing.
Their hooves are specially designed for digging through ice and snow as they look for food. They eat primarily grasses, roots, and other plant-based materials buried under the snow.
Ermines are found in northern North America, Europe, and Asia. They live in very cold, snowy environments, and often turn white in the winter.
Ermines have thick, warm coats of fur. This fur is so warm and fine that ermines are often hunted for their pelts.
They eat a variety of small meat-based foods including birds, frogs, eggs, and invertebrates. Their white coat allows them to blend in with the snow in the winter, making it hard for their prey to see them coming.
Many different animals live in snowy environments, including the snowy owl, snow leopard, ermine, polar bear, arctic fox, and various penguin species. These animals, and the many others that share their environment, all have special adaptations that allow them to survive the cold and snow.