Polar bear on melting icecap

41 Arctic Animals With Amazing Surviving Skills (Facts + Pictures)

In Fun Facts by Morten Storgaard

Ever wondered what kind of animals that live in the Arctic? We find some very beautiful white animals in the Arctic areas.

It’s the area around the North Pole where the weather is ice cold.

We find some of the most beautiful animals here. With snow white fur and puffy fur to keep them warm!

Let’s get started!

Let’s look at some amazing facts about these creatures that manage to live in the coldest regions of the earth.

Arctic Terrestrial Animals (land animals)

Polar Bear on icecap around the area of Greenland of the Arctic Ocean

Let’s start by looking at some of the land animals that live in these extreme cold areas.

The Polar Bear is probably the most famous of them all. And you will see why.

Polar Bears

One of the most famous Arctic animals is the Polar Bears. They live in the Arctic lowlands near the sea where they can catch fish and jump in the water.

They are amazing swimmers!

Polar bear swimming under the water in arctic water

They look really majestic when they sit on the ice.

They can run faster than you even though it is one of the largest bears we have. They can reach a top speed of around 25 mph (km/h).

That’s VERY fast!

Polar bear sitting on icecap on greenland

Arctic Hare

The Arctic hare is one of the masters of camouflage.

With its snow-white fur, it can disguise itself completely and stay safe from predators.

Camouflaging plays an important role for many of the Arctic animals. It’s a good way to be able to blend in with the background to either wait for prey to come by or in order to avoid becoming somebody else’s prey.

We have written another article with 36 impressive animals that can completely camouflage themselves.

That article also contains a lot of cool Arctic animals.

Arctic hare camouflaging itself completely in the white snow

Arctic Wolf

This is a rare animal we find in Greenland.

It has also been found in northern parts of Norway around the Arctic tundra but it has been hunted down here. So you will have the best chance of finding the Arctic Wolf in Canada.

It also has beautiful white fur that keeps it warm during the winter. Much like the Snow Fox.

White Arctic Wolf hauling at the sky in the Arctic tundra

Reindeer

Reindeers are probably most known for helping Santa pull the sleigh. They are majestic creatures with beautiful antlers and strong muscles.

They have thick light brown fur and they live in the wild forests of Norway, Sweden, Alaska, Russia, Greenland, and Asia.

They are also called Caribou in Northern America and they often live in herds of up to 1,000,000 animals in Russia.

They will typically be found in the snowy mountains.

Reindeer with huge antlers in the Arctic landscape of Northern Sweden

Moose

The Moose is a gigantic animal. They are quite dangerous for us humans but not for the reason you would think.

I have lived in Norway for a year and it’s common knowledge up there that a Moose can be dangerous. Here’s what happens.

If you meet a Moose in your car you need to avoid driving into it. Because you will only hit the legs of the Moose and the rest of the body will hit the windshield of the car and you will have around 1,200 lbs (540 kilograms) of animal smashing into the car.

Not something you are likely to survive!

Here are some pictures to show you just how enormous these monsters with antlers really are:

Giant Moose standing on the road in Norway with huge antlers

They have a special head shape. Much different from Deers and more like a horse.

Moose head with huge antlers living in Arctic region (Canada and Norway)

Musk Ox

Musk Oxes look very robust and strong.

And they are.

They have an extremely thick coat and they can weigh up to 900 lbs (400 kilograms) so they are actually not as big as the Moose above.

It is called “Umingmak” in Nunavut which is an old Canadian language. That means “the bearded one” And you understand why. It looks like the grand old grandpa of all cows and ox.

They live primarily in Greenland, Siberia, and Canada.

Musk ox in the Arctic cold of the North Pole

Otters

Otters are fun. They will often be seen playing with each other in the water. They will sometimes lay on their backs in the water and look up in the air. That looks super cute.

They are known to hold hands when they sleep (inside the water!) in order to not drift apart.

You can read more about that and sleeping habits of other animals here – it’ looks extremely cute.

Otter standing up and looking super cute with dark eyes

Here you can see the Otter swimming on the back.

It will often do this in pairs. They are very social animals and they love to float side by side in the cold rivers and ocean of the Arctic tundra.

Arctic Otter playing in the cold water on the back with fish

Wolverine

The Wolverine has many names: Glutton, Skunk, Bear, Carcajou etc.

It is a rather small animal that only weighs around 40 lbs (18 kilograms) and they are mostly found around Canada, Alaska and the Nordic countries.

They look like small bears and that’s also why some people refer to them as bears.

They eat whatever they can find. Typically the leftovers from another predator. This is also where it got the nickname “Glutton”.

Wolverine animal standing up in Arctic tundra

Snow Foxes

Snow Foxes are becoming increasingly rare.

They are very beautiful and they change the color of the fur from summer to winter.
A very pretty make-over!

Here you can see a Snow Fox in the summer where the fur is darker in order for the animals to camouflage itself against the rocks and trees.

Snow fox with summer coat of light brown fur

And here’s a Snow Fox with its winter coat. Very white and almost shiny.

As you can see, the Snow Fox becomes almost invisible in the white snow when it lays flat on the ground. Only the cute little eyes gives it away.

Arctic Snow Fox with white fur (winter coat) to keep it warm in the cold snowy weather

Lemmings

The Lemming is a small rodent with a short tail. It’s closely related to rats, hamsters, and other smaller rodents.

They are around 5-6 inches (15 cm) and they have soft brown or dark-brown fur. They will eat mostly grass and moss and in the snow, they will find berries and roots.

Lemming sitting on wood in northern Norway near the Arctic area

Arctic Aquatic Animals (Sea Animals)

Narwhal

The Narwhales are very special.

They have the characteristic horn in the front that makes them look like no other sea animal.

They are also called the unicorn of the sea. The horn-like spike is actually more like a long tooth that grows from the upper lip.

Narwhal with horn living around Greenland

Seals

There are primarily 6 types of seals in the Arctic areas:

  • Ringed Seals
  • Spotted Seals
  • Ribbon Seals
  • Hooded Seals
  • Bearded Seals
  • Harp Seals

Here are some pictures of the seals of the Arctic ocean. They differ a lot in size and weight.

Let’s start by taking a look at this cute Spotted Seal.

It has spots all over the body except for the head. It also has long whiskers just like the other seal species.

Cute baby seal swimming outside Iceland coast in arctic water

Here’s another picture of the Spotted Seal that lives around the Arctic area.

Seal poppin up above the surface to look

The next picture is a Harp Seal.

They have silver-grey coats with darker spots. They are also called SaddleBack Seals.

They weigh around 300 lbs (140 kilograms) and they are about 6 feet (1,9 meters) long. They can withstand very low temperatures and they are great swimmers.

Harp Seal with silver-grey coat

Walruses

The Walruses are huge. They can weigh up to 2,200 pounds (1 ton).

The tusks can be up to 1.6 feet (50 cm) and they are very impressive. Much bigger than most people think.

Despite the big size and it’s a rather clumsy style on land the Walrus is fast in the water. It’s a fast swimmer. It feeds on snails and clams.

Walrus sitting on the beach of Northern Norway close to the North Pole

Orca (Killer Whales)

Killer whales are huge predators. Hence the name.

They will feed on other sea creatures like fish, seals or even Dolphins.

They are very clever which is also why you will often see them perform complicated tasks and tricks in marine parks. They can do most of the things you can teach a Dolphin.

Killer whale jumping in the arctic sea

Humpback Whales

One of the giants of the sea is found in the Arctic Ocean. They are huge whales with large tails and they can jump high up in the air to impress everybody. If you don’t see them you will definitely hear them land!

They can weigh up to 33 short tons (30 metric tons) and they will be up to 52 feet (16 meters). That makes them one of the largest whales on the planet.

Humpback whale jumping high up in the air with a big splash in arctic cold water

Blue Whales

98 feet (30 meters). That’s the impressive size of this sea monster.

They can weigh up to 190 short tons (170 meter tons) and they are the largest animals know to have EVER existed! It’s larger than any dinosaur or prehistoric animal we have documented to have been around.

That’s an impressive record.

Blue Whale swimming in the Sea near the coast of Svalbard, Norway

Other whales in the Arctic sea are Fin Whales, Greenland Whales, and Mink Whales.

Arctic Birds

Arctic Snowy Owl from Northern Norway around the Arctics

We also find a lot of interesting birds around the Arctic Tundra. Let’s take a look a some of these tough birds that can withstand the cold air.

Puffin Birds

This bird is very famous for its colorful beak. It has very strong red colors and it also has a very bright yellow spot.

This amazingly beautiful bird is actually the national bird of the Faroe Islands.

Puffin bird thinking with strong colors and black head

Puffin bird head with multiple colors on the beak

Snowy Owls

Snowy Owls are very pretty with a completely white set of feathers.

They eat mice and other smaller creeps and insects they can catch.

They have amazing hearing due to the special form of their heads. The round areas outside the eyeballs help them pick up sounds from afar.

Snowy owl flying high over northern Sweden

See how intense those yellow eyes are.

Snowy owl with amazing yellow eyes sitting on the snow in the Arctic area

The wings are larger than you would think and they have pretty dark spots all over.

This also helps it camouflage itself in trees.

Snowy owl flying with white fur and wide open wings.

Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle can often be spotted at the Arctic area.

Otherwise, it will be found in Northern America. It can fly up to Alaska and all the way down to Mexico. It’s a huge bird with a wingspan of 7,5 feet (228 cm) so it can fly long distances.

Another impressive fact about this huge bird is the lifespan. It can live up to 20 years in the wild.

Bald Eagle sitting on a tree ready to fly

We also find Geese in the Arctic area. Specifically the Snow Goose, Barnacle Goose, and the Canada Goose.

Other Arctic birds include:

  • Arctic Terns
  • Kittiwakes
  • Fulmars
  • King Eiders
  • Little Auks
  • Ivory Gulls
  • Ptarmigans
  • Turnstones
  • Long-tailed Ducks
  • Iceland Gulls
  • Red Knots
  • Buff-breasted Sandpipers
  • Arctic Warblers
  • Little Stints

Baby Animals From The Arctics

Some of the babies of these creatures are super cute.

They are white and furry like their parents and this makes them look puffy and cute.

Polar Bear Cubs

The cubs, as the babies of Polar Bears are called, are super cute. Maybe the cutest animals you find, if you ask me.

They look like your Teddybear because they are soft and round.

Polar Bear cub with mom. Super cute and tiny newborn baby

Check out this little fella.

It’s ready to explore the world of ice and snow.

Polar Bear cub discovering on it's own in the arctic

Seal Pups

The first seal pup below is a Harp Seal.

They can be almost white as pups but when they grow up they get a much darker color with a silver-grey coat.

Cute Baby Seal with big dark eyes laying on the beach

This next one is also a Harp Seal Pup.

So cute with those big dark eyes!

 

Very cute baby seal from Greenland

Baby Snow Fox

The Snow Fox cubs are curious and cute little guys.

This cub is wearing it’s summer coat. In the winter the fur changes to white in order to match the snow.

Baby snow fox

Otter Pup

What about this little Otter pup?

They are blind for the first month and after two months they will jump in the water and learn to swim.

Otter pup baby looking furry and cute with dark fur

Baby Owls

Baby Owls look pretty scary, actually.

They have the same yellow eyes and they are very furry. They will stay close to the mother Owl in the beginning until they are ready to hunt for mice and creeps on their own.

Baby Owl with very furry feathers to keep warm

Baby snowy owl from arctic area

Tiny cute baby owl with black eyes

What Do Animals In The Artic Eat?

Many of the Arctic animals are eating other animals. Here’s a list of what some of the animals in this article prefer to eat:

  • Wolverine
    They are scavengers. They will eat whatever dead animals they can find. They will eat meat and preferably something another predator has killed.
  • Otters
    Otters eat fish. They are amazing swimmers and will catch them in the water
  • Seals
    Seals will also eat fish.
  • Walrus
    They will eat Mullucks, Worms, Sea Cucumbers, and Clams.
  • Lemmings
    They eat berries, grass, roots, leaves and what else they can dig up in the snow.
  • Musk Ox
    The majestic Musk Ox will eat grass, mosses, herbs and other plants they can find.
  • Killer Whales
    Killer Whales eat fish, seals, or even a Dolphin! That’s why they got the name “Killer Whale”. They will hunt down big animals in the sea.
  • Humpback Whales
    This huge whale will eat fish and it loves to hunt. Primarily Salmon, Herring, and Haddocks. But they like a varied meal with lots of different fish.
  • Blue Whales
    Blue Whales are the largest animals on the planet (to have ever lived) so they don’t have any natural enemies. They will eat Krills which are small tiny creatures of the sea that will swim into the gigantic mouth of the whale. They also eat a bunch of other tiny sea creatures just by opening the mouth.
  • Bald Eagle
    The Bald Eagle will hunt and eat small mammals like raccoons, rabbits, and squirrels.

How Do Arctic Animals Stay Warm?

Polar bear on melting icecap

The animals in the Arctic tundra uses different techniques in order to stay warm in the extreme cold weather.

The temperatures will reach -58 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius) sometimes so they need to be good at keeping warm when it really drops.

Here are some of the ways the Arctic animals stay warm:

  • Blubber
    Seals, Polar Bears, and Walruses have a thick layer of fat called “blubber”. It helps them keep a steady core temperature during the cold months. But the seals will migrate with it’s not breeding season.
    They cannot keep warm at the lowest extreme temperatures. The Harp Seals will start having problems when the temperatures drop really low. You can read more here about why animals migrate (and how!).
  • Winter Fur
    The Snow Fox changes fur each season. During the summer, the Snow Fox will have a light brown winter coat (see above) and in the cold season, it changes for a white coat which is warmer.
  • Hibernation
    During the coldest season, some of the animals will go into hibernation.
    They do so primarily because it’s hard to find food in the winter months. When they are in hibernation sleep they don’t eat or poop and they slow down their heart rates and they also breathe less frequently.
    You can read more here about which animals go into hibernation (and how).
  • Oily skin
    The Polar Bears have an oily substance on their thick fur. It helps them isolate the skin and keep the cold out.

How cold is the Arctic ocean?

The Arctic ocean is cold in the winter months.

The temperature of the surface is always around the freezing point. It’s a little below the melting point (32 degrees Fahrenheit / 0 degrees Celsius) because the water is salty. The salt lowers the melting point a bit by 1-2 degrees.

When you get deeper into the Arctic ocean the water will typically get a little “warmer” (2-3 degrees). The coldest waters are found around Northern Canada.

Is the Arctic a country?

No.

The Arctic area is the most northern area of the Earth.

The area consists of several countries:

  • Island
  • Greenland
  • Northern Sweden
  • Northern Norway
  • Greenland (part of Denmark)
  • Part of Alaska
  • Part of Russia.

So as you can see, the Arctic is not a country but a list of regions of which some are countries (like Iceland).

The Arctic is not the same as the North Pole either. The North pole is the central part of the Arctic but the Arctic tundra is much bigger than the area we call the North Pole.

Animals from the Arctic area around the North Pole

How much does it show in the Arctic?

The Arctic tundra is a rather big area as you can see in this article. Some of the Arctic tundras is found in Greenland and Iceland and here you will find many places with permanent snow.

Snow will fall continuously and over the land with white snow.

The average snowfall is not constant. It will be snowing the most around fall and spring but the wind will carry the snow around and make it hard for people to live in these remote and cold areas

Sources: visitgreenland.com, si.edu,

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