The Tundra is a huge expanse of flat and treeless ground that can be found in the Arctic regions of Europe, Asia and North America. The environment has frosty landscapes in very low temperatures. It is a cold barren wasteland that includes snow, rocks and very little variety in vegetation.
The tundra is an unusually cold and dry climate with strong and drying winds. This is not a place for ordinary animals to live. This is a place where only the strongest will survive and that means animals with the best protection against the powerful cold winds and freezing temperatures.
Some of these animals are big and some are small. Some are predators and others are scavengers. Some live in the ocean, some live above ground and some live below ground. All of them have their own unique ways of tackling the unforgiving weather and they are all experts in finding food for survival.
For many of the above ground animals it is about day to day survival to find food, water and shelter. Take a look at some of these amazing animals that live in one of the most inhospitable climates on Earth.
Also called by the Blackfeet Indians as “skunk bear”, the wolverine is the largest of the terrestrial or land-living weasels. It is a big weasel that looks like a small bear. The wolverines are solitary animals, meaning they like being alone. They are mostly found in Canada, Alaska in USA, Russia and Siberia. They are known for being stronger and fiercer than they look.
Fun fact: Did you know that even though wolverines are dark-colored, their babies are pure white!
02. Canada Lynx
The Canada Lynx is a North American mammal. It is a wild cat that is usually two times the size of pet cats! It is a secretive and mostly nocturnal animal. Nocturnal means that even if it can be awake anytime, it likes moving around at night. They are known for running very fast but they get tired easily.
Fun fact: Did you know that a big group of lynx can hunt down big animals like deer?
03. Arctic Hare
Also called the “polar rabbit”, the arctic hare is a mammal that lives in the polar region by the help of their thick, white fur. It is a big, white rabbit that digs holes in the snowy ground to make tunnels to their warm home. They are mostly found in Greenland and Canada, but some are found in Labrador.
Fun fact: Did you know that a mommy arctic hare can have up to eight babies called “leverets”.
04. Red Fox
The red fox is the biggest among the true foxes. They like living where there are people. Being a carnivore, the red fox eats meat. And even if they are called the red fox, not all red foxes are red. There are white and brown too. They are mostly found in the cold countries, but there are also a lot of red fox in Australia! They live in burrows like rabbits and the children stay with their parents as long as they are not married.
Fun fact: Did you know that the red fox, because of their fur, is also sometimes called the fire fox?
05. Beluga Whale
Also called the white whales, are the closes relative of the narwhal or the sea unicorns. They are also called the “melon head”. They live around the Arctic where the water is very cold. The front of their head has a bump that is called the “melon”. It is very squishy. They can bump on a wall without hurting their head. Their flippers are wide and short, making them look square-shaped.
Fun fact: Did you know that as the beluga grows older, their tails become more curved?
06. Polar Bear
Their scientific name means “maritime bear” or sea bear. They live in the Arctic Circle, like in Canada, Russia and the North Pole. Also called the “Nanook”, they eat fish and other small animals in their territory. Because of the Global Warming, the polar bears are slowly losing their home.
Fun fact: Did you know that polar bears have black skin beneath their snow white fur? And they get drunk by sniffing gas fuel.
Also called the reindeer, it is smaller than its cousins, the moose. They live mostly in Alaska and Canada. They use their sharp hooves to get moss and lichen – their favorite food, also called the reindeer moss. Caribou antlers (or growing horns) have a smooth and soft fur-like covering called velvet.
Fun fact: Did you know that their hooves change shape depending on the seasons? Soft in summer and harder in winter!
08. Snowy Owl
One of the larger birds in the owl family, the snowy owl is the official bird of the province of Quebec in Canada. One of the biggest owls around, the snowy owl has a black beak and bright yellow eyes. They have white feathers that are sometimes spotted or striped with black or gray.
They are mostly found in Canada, Alaska in USA, and other cold European countries. They eat other small birds and mammals, but sometimes, they will settle for fish or frogs.
Fun fact: Did you know that Hedwig from the Harry Potter series is a snowy owl named Ook?
09. Dusky Dolphin
Named because of their almost pure black skins, they are related to the white-side dolphin. They are small to medium if compared to other dolphins, but they loved to jump and turn somersaults in the air. They swim in the waters of South America, Africa, and Australia. They like eating fish and especially giant squids.
Fun fact: Did you know that dolphins know where they are by making clicking and buzzing sounds like bats do?
The gyrfalcons are the biggest among all the falcons in the world. With their feathers colored differently from white to brown, their name means vulture falcon, because of the similarity in colors. They are mostly found in North America, Greenland and North Europe. They are the national symbol of Iceland.
Fun fact: Did you know that Vikings treat gyrfalcons as great guardian birds!
11. Arctic Fox
Also known by other names such as the white fox and the polar or snow fox, they are small foxes native to the Arctic region. They feed on any other small animals they could find. They are monogamous meaning couples stay together forever. They are usually found in the edges of Greenland, Russia, Canada, Alaska in the USA and Scandinavia. They are the only land mammal that can be found originally in Iceland.
Fun fact: Did you know that snow foxes have white fur in winter that turns to brown during the summer?
12. Ribbon Seal
A medium size member of the true seal family, they can only stay in the areas where there is always ice. They are known because of their fur color and pattern: they have two wide strips and two circles that are white on their dark brown or black fur. They only eat fish, squids and octopuses. They can dive up to 200 meters below the water surface.
Fun fact: Did you know, not like the other seals, ribbon seals do not form herds, instead staying only with their partner and babies.
13. Musk Ox
Named because of the odor their bodies produced during some seasons, the musk ox are more related to sheep than to other oxen. They have long curving horns present on both males and females. They have long, warm and soft wool. They are now mostly found in Greenland and eastern Canada.
Fun fact: Did you know that although all other musk oxen are black or brown, there are white musk oxen found in the Queen Maud Gulf Bird Sanctuary!
Also known as the stoat or the short-tailed weasel, they are different from weasels because of their short tails. A male ermine is called a jack while a female is the jill. They do not make their own burrows and nests; instead, they re-use abandoned nests and burrows. They are very common in the northern countries and also in New Zealand.
Fun fact: Did you know that ermine actually refers to the stoat’s pure white winter coat of fur?
15. Bowhead Whale
It is a fat, dark-colored whale without a dorsal fin. They have also been called the arctic whale or the Russian whale. They are slow swimmers that can stay under the water without inhaling for as long as 40 minutes. They can now be found mostly in the waters of Canada, Alaska and West Greenland.
Fun fact: Did you know that bowhead whales have the largest mouths of any animal alive on earth?
16. Chinstrap Penguin
They are small penguins found in Antarctica, Deception Island, South Shetland and other barren islands. Even though they live in uninhabited islands, during winter, they all meet in icebergs. They are the most aggressive to outsiders among all the penguins. Like the other small penguins, they build circle nests with smalls tones and pebbles and lay two eggs. Baby chinstrap penguins are grey.
Fun fact: Did you know their name came from their colors that look as if they are wearing black helmets with chinstraps?
17. Gray Wolf
They are what are commonly called the timber wolves. They are different than the other wolves because, like the red wolf, they are bigger. They hunt large prey like deer, moose, bison, oxen and other ungulates or animals with hooves. They are one of the most popular wolves so many of them are found all over the world both in reserve areas and in the wild.
Fun fact: Even if wolves usually hunt in groups called packs, there are times when even one grey wolf can kill a large prey like a moose.
18. Elephant Seal
They are large, earless seals that like to swim in the ocean. Elephant seals have babies once a year and stay in the same group called colony all their life. They eat so much fish every time they dive because their very large bodies make it difficult to climb in and out of the ocean.
Fun fact: Did you know that their name comes from the males having longer noses than normal seals, like elephant trunks?
Lemmings are small rodents that can only be found in or near the Arctic where it is almost always cold. They are subnivean animals, meaning they live in the tunnels formed underneath the snow by melting and re-freezing. Unlike other animals, they do not hibernate during very cold winters. They remain active all the time by nibbling on food they find or stored in their tunnel homes.
Fun fact: Did you know that lemmings are different from other rodents because instead of being shy and scared, they become aggressive when in danger!
20. Arctic Ground Squirrel
They are ground squirrels that live in the arctic north, especially in Canada, Alaska and Siberia. They live in shallow burrows they make on the ground in river banks, mountain slopes and lake shores. They rub noses when they meet friend and make “tsk-tsk” sounds when they meet enemies.
Fun fact: Did you know that they are also called Parka? And the jacket style called parka was named after them.
21. Grizzly Bear
They are brown bears that live in North America. They are also called silver-tips because that’s how their fur looks like up-close. Even if bears are definitely meat-eaters, grizzlies are omnivores. That means they eat mixed plants and meat. Depends on what is available. Canadian and Alaskan grizzly bears are larger than the American grizzlies.
Fun fact: Did you know that grizzly cubs stay with their mom for two years, then after that, they try to avoid her all the time?