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12 Animals That Live in Boreal Forests (with Pictures)

One-third of the planet’s surface is covered in forests, but not all of these regions are the same. While some forests share similarities, others are vastly different. Every forest in the world can be classified into one of four different categories; Tropical, Subtropical, Temperate, and Boreal. In this article we’re going to learn about some of the animals that live in boreal forests in particular.

Each of these forests contains a unique range of wildlife, and they all perform important functions in the world’s ecosystem. Boreal forests alone contribute around a quarter of the lumber and paper that is found on the market today.

They make up the largest land biome in the world and are found in eight countries.

What is a Boreal Forest?

Boreal forests can be seen in eight countries around the world; the United States, Norway, Russia, Canada, China, Finland, Japan, and Sweden. They are full of coniferous tree species, like pine, fir, and spruce.

These forests are opposite tropical forests when it comes to extreme climates. Boreal experience freezing temperatures between six and eight months out of the year. Despite the frigid cold, a number of species thrive in these forests.

Boreal forests also support various Indigenous communities by offering hunting, fishing, economic opportunities, and spiritual activities.

12 Animals that Live in Boreal Forests

There are thousands of organisms that live in the Boreal forests around the world. Around 85 mammals call these regions home and over 300 species of birds can survive and thrive in the harsh winters. There are few species of reptiles and amphibians found, and they spend most of the cold months hibernating.

1. Caribou

image: Pixabay.com

Scientific name: Rangifertarandus

Caribou are a species of deer that are often referred to as reindeer. These animals can be found in the Boreal forests of North America, Europe, and Siberia. While they prefer to travel in herds, the size of these herds can vary greatly.

2. Wolverine

Scientific name: Gulo gulo

The Wolverine is an omnivorous animal found in the Boreal forests in North America, Siberia, and Scandinavia. They prefer to scavenge for food, but will also hunt deer and moose. Bears, wolves, and humans are the main threats that Wolverines face.

These creatures are robust in size, reaching up to 1m long. Wolverines have also been nicknamed the skunk bear.

3. Moose

image: Pixabay.com

Scientific name: Alces alces

Moose are the largest members of the deer family and are commonly found in Boreal regions. They are also the largest herbivores found in these forests. These animals prefer to feed on high growing plants, shrubs, and trees.

During warm months, they are known to dive in order to eat aquatic plants. They are one of the main food sources for wolves, another common area in these regions.

4. Gray Wolf

image by Raed Mansour via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Canis lupus

While wolves have adapted to live in multiple climates, and are commonly found in Boreal forests. When alone, they can hunt any number of small prey from rabbits to birds. When in packs, they easily take down moose, elk, and caribou.

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Some wolves that live near rivers will even learn how to catch fish. Despite being carnivores, gray wolves will also feed on vegetation and tree fruit.

5. American black bear

Scientific name: Ursus americanus

The American black bear is the smallest bear species in North America and is widely distributed across the continent. They spend most of the summer months eating berries and salmon and then hibernate throughout winter.

Since these creatures can be attracted to the food and garbage of campsites, it isn’t uncommon for them to run into humans. It is estimated that there are twice as many black bears as any other bear species.

6. Red fox

Scientific name: Vulpes vulpes

Red foxes are nocturnal animals that call Boreal regions home. They spend the nights hunting small animals, mostly rodents. Red foxes will also hunt rabbits and birds, and they can adjust their diet depending on where it is.

If they find themselves near humans, they can feed on garbage and pet food. However, this makes them be seen as a pest in some areas, and humans will hunt them. Their intelligence and resourcefulness have made them easily adaptable.

7. Beaver

Scientific name: Castor canadensis

Beavers are found in the Boreal forests of Canada and most of America, including Alaska. They prefer marshes, ponds, and streams, and stay away from arid climates. While beavers mostly eat tree bark, they will also feed on water plants, roots, and buds.

When it comes to trees, they would rather eat bark from maple, aspen, birch, poplar, and willow trees. Having lips that close behind their teeth allow them to eat underwater.

8. Brown Bear

brown bear and cubs

Scientific name: Ursus arctos

Brown bears are some of the most dangerous animals that inhabit the taiga. They can weigh up to 800 pounds and are quite powerful. While it is rare for them to attack humans, it can happen.

These bears have a large diet, from small prey animals to berries and garbage. They are found in Europe, North America, and Asia.

9. Deer

mule deer | image: Pixabay.com

Scientific name: Cervidae

Deer are the smallest member of their species family and are commonly found in the taiga of North America, Canada, and South America. Since these animals like to graze, their diets mainly consist of grass, leaves, and shrubbery.

The deer of the Boreal regions also act as a food source for many other animals that live there, including wolves, bears, and wolverines.

10. Wood bison


Scientific name: Bison bison athabascae

The wood bison, also called the wood Buffalo, is a subspecies of bison that is commonly found in Boreal forests. They are mostly found in Western regions and were once considered endangered due to over-hunting. Wood bison are the largest land mammal found in North America.

Just like deer, these animals like to graze on grass, shrubbery, and small plants. Most bison in North America are found in Canada, but there is also a large captive herd in Canada.

11. Racoon

Scientific name: Procyon lotor

The raccoon is a widespread mammal that is highly adaptable. They enjoy the wooded areas of Boreal forests but have been known to stay near southern regions. Raccoons can not stand cold the way other animals in these areas can, so they have not travelled as far north.

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They are omnivores who mostly eat fish, fruit, berries, frogs, and eggs. Sometimes they will even go after small birds. These small animals are known for “washing” their food before eating it.

12. Boreal owl

Scientific name: Aegolius funereus

The Boreal Owl is most common in Canada, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. These owls make their homes in mountain ranges. Boreal Owls nest in trees but will also make use of nesting boxes. Very little is actually known about these owls, since they are nocturnal and for the most part located at higher elevations.

It is not uncommon for the female raptors to be visibly larger than the males, Boreal Owls take this to the extreme. Female Boreal Owls can be twice the size of males. Boreal Owls will find new sites to roost daily, making them even harder to observe.