Many animals are intimately adapted to their native habitat. Even in the most inhospitable climate, all types of animals thrive. Let’s take a look at 13 types of animals that like cold weather. Every kind of animal is represented here, from herbivore to carnivore and bird to mammal.
Read on and get to know these animals that call the frigid lands of the poles their home.
13 Animals That Like Cold Weather
1. Polar Bear
When you think of an animal that loves the cold, Polar bears might come to mind. You’re right! Polar bears make their home in the northern reaches of the North American continent. They hunt for seals amid thousands of ice floes in the bays and inlets of the Arctic.
Polar bears mate in the early summer. After fattening up all summer, females dig snow caves, where they hibernate over the winter. She usually gives birth to two cubs, which she nurses until mid-February.
They then break out of the snow cave and journey back to the shore where she teaches her cubs to hunt for prey.
2. Snow Leopard
Snow leopards are native to Mongolia and the Himalayan Mountains. They live along high, rugged cliffs, where they catch hares, sheep, and ibex.
This cat is so muscular and agile that it can leap up to six times the length of its own body. It has many adaptations to the cold temperatures of this unforgiving region. They have thick fur coats, large paws, and tails that they wrap around themselves to stay warm.
3. Arctic Fox
The Arctic Fox is native to North America. It lives in northern Canada and Alaska, where it hunts for seabirds, fish, seal pups, and small rodents.
Like many species that live in the tundra, Arctic foxes shed their coats twice per year. In the winter, they grow white fur that blends into the snow. In the spring, they grow a red coat similar to foxes living farther south.
In the winter, Arctic foxes stay concealed from their predators by remaining motionless. Polar bears and Arctic wolves struggle to see them and often walk away.
4. Willow Ptarmigan
Willow ptarmigans are a type of grouse that lives in the northern reaches of forests around the globe, from Canada to Norway to Mongolia. Like many other Arctic animals, they molt in the fall to white plumage in order to stay camouflaged.
The Willow ptarmigan got its name because of its favorite food, willow buds, twigs, and catkins. They are easy to identify during the breeding season, when males make their characteristic ‘rattle.’
5. Snow Geese
Snow Geese are aptly named because of their white plumage, which they use to blend in with the snow of the Arctic regions. These migratory waterfowl don’t spend all year up north, however. They only breed on the polar islands of Canada. .
They migrate south to spend the winter in waterways and marshes of the United States and Mexico. Their favorite regions are the southern Midwest, habitat patches in the Pacific Northwest, and the coast of New England.
6. Snowy Owls
Snowy Owls are majestic, clever, and well known throughout Canada, Alaska, and parts of the Northern United States. Because of the weight of their thick down feathers, they are the heaviest owl in North America.
They spend their summers north of the Arctic Circle, where they breed, raise young, and hunt for prey. Some live year-round in northern Canada, while others winter as far south as New York.
7. Atlantic Puffin
It’s hard to miss an Atlantic Puffin. These fish-eating birds have a powerful, triangle-shaped beak, a small, stocky body, and an eye shaped like a teardrop.
Puffins spend most of the winter out at sea, where they dive for fish. You’re more likely to spot them during the spring and summer. During breeding season, they lay eggs in burrows along cliffs near Newfoundland and Maine.
8. Emperor Penguin
Measuring over three feet tall and over 50 pounds, the Emperor penguin is the largest and heaviest penguin on Earth. Because of the frigid, unforgiving environment in which it lives, is efficient on putting on fat stores.
Emperor penguins are one of the only bird species that breeds during the winter. They withstand wind speeds of nearly 90 mph and temperatures of -40 F.
9. Tundra Swan
Tundra swans, also known as “whistling swans” because of how wind whistles over their wings, are native to the northern US and Canada. They breed in the Arctic Circle, but winter in two regions farther south: the Pacific Northwest and New England.
These waterfowl eat plants and grains, but a population living in Chesapeake Bay, Massachusetts eats only clams. You may be lucky to see them migrate in the fall and spring!
Caribou, also known as reindeer, are a type of ruminant herbivore which lives in Canada, Northern Europe, and Russia. They have many adaptations to cold environments, including thick, dense fur that is a powerful insulator.
Another unique adaptation is their eyesight. Reindeer can see UV light, which helps them see better in snowy Arctic habitat.
11. Arctic Hare
This species of hare is adapted to living in extreme cold. It has short, furry ears, a thick fat layer, and a thick white coat. They live in the Arctic year-round and eat plants and shrubbery.
Arctic hares shed twice yearly; their summer coats are gray-brown and their winter coats are pure white.
Walrus are pivotal members of ecosystems in the North and South Poles. They live along coasts, where they hunt for mollusks.
Their cold-weather adaptations include thick blubber and rough skin. Once hunted to near-extinction for their tusks, walrus populations are beginning to thrive again.
Muskoxen are native to the Arctic regions of northern Asia and Europe, where they eat plant matter like grass and willows. They have thick wool, which keeps them warm, and characteristic curved horns, which males use in fights to claim females.
Muskoxen have been reintroduced to many areas around northern Europe, Canada, and Alaska. Populations have done fairly well and rewilding efforts continue.