There are many animals that live at high altitudes. These animals have adapted to these environments in order to survive. Some of them, like mountain goats, have even evolved specifically for this environment. From the Andes to the Himalayas, animals have had to adapt to survive in these extreme conditions.
In this blog post, we will discuss some of the animals that live at high altitudes and how they have adapted to their surroundings.
Animals That Live at High Altitudes
From brown bears to pika, Himalayan Tahr to Lammergeier, below are 11 animals that call the mountains home:
1. Brown Bear
Scientific Name: Ursus arctos
Brown bears are found in many different parts of the world, but they are particularly well adapted to life in mountainous regions throughout Europe, the Middle East, North America, Asia, and the U.S.
They have thick fur coats that protect them from the cold and powerful claws that help them climb steep slopes. Brown bears are also very good at finding food, even when there is snow on the ground. All these adaptations make brown bears well-suited to living at high altitudes up to 5,000 m (16,400 ft).
Scientific Name: Gypaetus barbatus
The lammergeier, also called the bearded vulture, is a large Old World vulture. The are one of the few birds of prey that have no problem living at high altitudes up to 16,400 ft (5,000 m).
However, scientists have also spotted them at 24,600 ft (7,500 m). That’s pretty high, considering that most commercial airplanes only fly at about 33,000 ft (11,000 m)!
They can be found across much of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The lammergeier is notable for its habit of dropping bones on rocks to crack them open and eat the marrow inside.
Although they don’t typically build their own nests, lammergeiers will use the abandoned nests of other birds. These massive nests can be up to 12 ft (360 cm) wide and 20 ft (600 cm) deep!
3. Tibetan Sand Fox
Scientific Name: Vulpes ferrilata
Tibetan sand foxes are found in the alpine and subalpine zones of the Tibetan Plateau. They are well-adapted to living at high altitudes up to 17,100 ft (5,200 m), with a thick fur coat that keeps them warm in the cold mountain climate.
Their diet consists mainly of small rodents and lagomorphs, which they hunt using their sharp senses of hearing and smell. Tibetan sand foxes are shy and elusive animals, and little is known about their behavior in the wild. They are nocturnal creatures, spending most of the day resting in their dens.
During the winter, they often hibernate for long periods and can survive on very little food. Tibetan sand foxes are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting pressure from humans.
Scientific Name: Equus kiang
The kiang is the largest of the Tibetan antelope species. It is a wild yak that can be found in the high altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau. The kiang is a very important animal to the Tibetan culture, as it is seen as a symbol of strength and power.
It has thick fur that protects it from cold weather. It is a swift runner and can reach speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour. The kiang is also a very good jumper and can jump over fences that are two meters high. It’s an endangered species, as it is hunted for its fur. There are only about 200 kiangs left in the wild.
Scientific Name: Bos grunniens
The yak is a long-haired bovid found throughout the Himalayan region of southern Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau, and as far north as Qinghai in western China. They are also known to live in the high-altitude areas of Mongolia.
In addition to domesticated yaks, there exists a small number of wild yak populations. The yak is the heaviest and most heavily built of all wild cattle.
They have adapted to living at high altitudes, having thick fur that protects them from cold weather. They can also withstand low oxygen levels and harsh conditions. Yaks are known to live up to an altitude of 6000 m (20,000 ft).
6. Alpine Chough
Scientific Name: Pyrrhocorax graculus
Alpine Choughs are one of the few animals that live at high altitudes. They can be found in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. These birds typically live at elevations up to 21,300 feet but have been spotted as high as 26,900 feet!
Alpine Choughs have special adaptations that allow them to survive in extreme conditions, such as thick feathers that help insulate their bodies and a unique respiratory system. They also have a powerful beak that helps them break through ice and snow.
7. Tibetan gazelle
Scientific Name: Procapra picticaudata
The Tibetan gazelle is a small antelope with a light brown coat and white underparts. They have black markings on their face, legs, and tail. Males and females are similar in size, but males have slightly larger horns.
They are found in China, where they inhabit western Qinghai, southern Xinjiang, and Tibet, and across the border in Ladakh, India. They live up to 18,900 feet above sea level! The
Tibetan gazelles live in alpine meadows and steppes. They eat grasses, shrubs, and herbs. In the winter, they migrate to lower altitudes where more food is available.
Scientific Name: Pantholops hodgsonii
Chiru is a type of antelope that is found in China and India. They are very well adapted to living at high altitudes and can be found living up to 18,000 feet above sea level! These animals are timid and elusive, so very little is known about them. However, we know they are herbivores and live in small herds. They feed on grasses and other plants, and their coat helps to keep them warm in the cold mountain temperatures.
9. Himalayan Marmot
Scientific Name: Marmota himalayana
The Himalayan marmot is a large squirrel-like rodent found in the Himalayas of central Asia. They live in colonies at high altitudes, typically between 3000 and 5000 meters above sea level, but have been recorded as high as 5600 meters. These marmots are well-adapted to their cold, harsh environment with thick fur coats and a layer of subcutaneous fat. They hibernate for up to eight months of the year.
Himalayan marmots are social animals and live in colonies of up to 30 animals. They have a complex system of burrows which they use for shelter and raising their young. The burrows are usually located on south-facing slopes where they can get the most warmth from the sun.
Marmots are generally herbivorous, eating a variety of grasses, herbs, and flowers. When food is scarce in the winter, they eat bark and even other small animals.
The Himalayan marmot is classified as “near threatened” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are hunted for their fur and meat, and their habitat is being increasingly encroached upon by humans.
10. Himalayan Tahr
Scientific Name: Hemitragus jemlahicus
Himalayan Tahr is found in the mountains of China, India, and Nepal. They live at high altitudes, up to 16,400 feet above sea level. The Himalayan Tahr is well-adapted to its harsh environment and is able to survive in temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit.
These animals are also very agile, able to jump up to six feet in the air and run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Himalayan Tahr is an herbivore whose diet consists mainly of grasses and shrubs.
11. Mountain Goat
Scientific Name: Oreamnos americanus
Mountain goats are found in the mountains of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are well-adapted to living in harsh environments and can be found at altitudes of up to 16,000 feet. Mountain goats are herbivores, and their diet consists mainly of grasses and sedges.
They are a relatively small species of goat, with males weighing up to 350 pounds and females weighing up to 250 pounds. Mountain goats are covered in thick fur that helps protect them from the cold weather. They also have hooves that are well-suited for climbing on rocky terrain.
Mountain goats are social animals and live in herds of up to 100 individuals. The packs are typically made up of females and their young, with males living in separate herds.