The Arctic is a harsh environment for survival. The species of polar animals on the list below, nonetheless, can survive both in the tundra and the frigid waters surrounding the Arctic. Many polar animals have evolved their behaviour and livelihood, especially when dealing with cold and harsh climatic conditions.
These advancements include fur that changes colour with the seasons and thicker, multi-layered coats, layers of fat to insulate the animal from a cold environment, as well as seasonal migration and hibernation during the winter.
The Arctic has only vast areas of the ice. Despite its very cold weather, many animals have been able to adapt and live in this weather, which in its best conditions will be below zero, making the polar animals of the Arctic impressive. For this, we have brought you a list of 27 Polar animals in this article.
The Polo Norte and the Antarctic are two significant frigid zones on Earth that are located between 65° and 90° north and south latitudes. The first one contains the Arctic Circle, while the second one contains the Antarctic Circle. However, there are additional high mountain areas with climates that are quite comparable to the polar climate, such as the Himalayan peaks, the Andes, or the Alaskan mountains, therefore these are typically included in the geographical representation of the polar climate.
The polar climate is characterised by temperatures that are usually always below zero degrees Celsius and can get as low as -93 degrees Celsius (in the Arctic), where the sun’s rays are quite oblique to the surface of the Earth. There is little precipitation, extremely little relative humidity, and wind up to 97 km/h blowing with considerable fury. Living here is, therefore, nearly impossible (although, as we will see below, some animals and plants have managed to adapt to this hostile environment).
The list of polar animals includes species within the Arctic Circle and those in the Arctic Sub-Arctic, the area directly below (south) the North Pole.
1- Arctic fox:
The arctic fox is also named the white fox or the arctic fox, which is found in the list of polar animals. The arctic fox has undergone numerous modifications to allow it to survive in the cold climate. The fur is the most noticeable alteration since it changes colour according to the season, from brown in the summer to white in the winter. This thick fur provides both camouflage and insulation from the harsh cold environment.
2- Arctic hare:
The arctic rabbit is also called the arctic rabbit, and it is one of the polar animals. The smaller nose and ears of the arctic rabbit help to keep heat from escaping from these exposed areas. The arctic rabbit’s 20% body fat content is another adaption to the harsh arctic environment. Yet, the arctic hare is unaffected by all this additional protection. The arctic hare is speedy, reaching up to 60 km/h (40 mph).
3- Arctic tern:
A polar creature is the Arctic tern. This amazing species of arctic bird travels more than 19,000 miles a year, has two summers annually and enjoys more daylight than any other animal.
4- Arctic wolf:
In the list of polar animals, the arctic wolf is one of our favourites. Arctic Canada’s frigid north is home to the arctic wolf. Given that it is more slender than the Northwest wolf (another wolf progeny), it is recognised as a subspecies of the grey wolf.
Curiously, your favourite dog is the same breed as the arctic wolf. Arctic wolves and domestic dogs are both variations of the grey wolf. The arctic wolf has been hunted by humans less frequently than other wolves because of its arctic habitat.
5- The bald eagle:
It is one of the national American animals, not only the polar animals, as it can be seen across North America from Canada to Mexico. This polar animal got its name because of the white feathers above its head. Birds often look down to snatch fish from the water.
6- The white whale:
Along the shores of Russia, North America, and Greenland, the white whale can be found. and it is a very social polar animal, usually found in small groups of about ten whales, and its pure white colour provides camouflage to it under the ice in the Arctic.
Caribou are also found in our list of polar animals, also known as reindeer in Europe. This animal has many adaptations to cold climates, including wide nostrils to warm the cold arctic air. Hooves that become smaller and stiffer in winter to give caribou grip better in snow and ice, and the North American caribou have the longest land animal migrations.
The stoat is a member of the weasel family, and it is one of the polar animals, and although the stoat is small in size, it is able to hunt animals more significant than its size, such as rabbits, and the stoat uses even burrows of its victim to live instead of digging its own holes.
9- Greenland shark:
Our list of polar animals also includes the Greenland shark, whose natural home is the North Atlantic Ocean near Greenland and Canada. More than any other shark species, Greenland sharks are found in the north. The Greenland shark loves to hunt prey as it sleeps and is a slow swimmer. It also looks for food that other predators have left behind.
10- Harp seals:
The coat of newborn harp seals is yellow and changes to white after three days and when the young harp seal grows up, it becomes silvery-grey, and the harp seal is a polar animal that can adapt to the harsh cold environment through the thick layer of fat to keep it warm. By heat exchange with the surrounding area, its fins can both cool and warm the area.
The list of polar animals also includes little rodents with long, silky fur called lemmings. Lemmings don’t hibernate throughout the winter; they continue to stay active. Also, it stores up herbs before winter and searches for nourishment beneath the snow.
12- American Moose
The list of polar animals also includes the largest member of the deer family the American moose. It is a large-horned arctic animal that is most prevalent in Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia. The American moose is distinct from other deer because it lives alone rather than in a herd. But, when startled or enraged, it can transform into a swift and combative animal.
13- Musk ox:
It gets its name because the male releases a musk-like fragrance to entice females during mating season. The musk ox, which is regarded as a polar animal, has long, curving horns on both sexes, as well as a thick fur coat to keep it warm.
14- Narwhal whale:
The spotted Narwhal is a polar animal called the sea centipede and the rhinoceros whale. It is a medium-sized whale with one of the most distinctive features: the long tusk protruding from the front of its head. Indeed, the tusk is a long anterior year. The narwhal spends the entire year in the Arctic waters off the coasts of Canada, Greenland, and Russia.
15- Killer whale:
The killer whale, sometimes called the orca whale, is among polar animals. Surprisingly, this dangerous type of whales belongs to the dolphin family, and the orca whale has a distinctive black back and spots on the chest and white eyes, and the orca whale feeds on prey from other marine creatures and often lives in a group, and it is one of the polar animals, i.e., Apex predators, being the apex of the food chain, it is unaffected by natural predators.
16- Polar bear:
The list of polar animals is not complete without mentioning the polar bear, and the polar bear is considered a marine mammal, and the polar bear has the ability to float for extended distances in freezing water and is also one of the most fast-moving animals on land, and the polar bear is among the most significant types of bears.
The ptarmigan’s wintertime white plumage serves as snow camouflage. In the summer, the ptarmigan eats fruits and berries, while in the winter, it looks for food under the snow. The snow chicken is another name for this polar mammal.
The puffin bird depends on swimming in addition to flying, and the puffin bird has short wings that can help it push during swimming in the water, and the puffin bird has black and white feathers and a brightly coloured beak, and these polar animals usually live in colonies on the slopes above the water where they can quickly dive and find food.
19- Ringed seal:
Another animal found in the polar regions is the ringed seal, a small species of the seal with a stocky body and a small head like a cat. The name “ringed seal” comes from the fact that it feeds on small fish and has a brown coat with silver rings on its side and back.
20- The Sea Otter
The sea otter is one of the polar animals and it is also called the otter, and it is one of the polar animals of the Arctic. It is the heaviest species in the family of gametophytes, but it is one of the smallest marine mammals. The sea otter spends more time in the water than on land because of its thick fur coat, which protects it from the cold environment.
21- Snow Geese
Snow geese are also included on the list of polar animals; they raise their young in North America and Canada at the start of the summer before migrating south in the winter. These amazing polar animals tend to search for agricultural fields when they migrate, and snow geese have beaks adapted to dig and extract roots from the ground.
22. Snowshoe Bunny
The second type of rabbit in the list of polar animals is the snowshoe hare. The snowshoe hare’s coat transforms from brown in the summer to white in the winter. All-year-round camouflage is offered by this. The name of this species of arctic hare comes from the feet on the back. The hare is large, fluffy, and specially designed to keep it from sinking in the snow.
Because of its long fangs, long moustache, and small flippers, the walrus is clearly identifiable. Humans hunted this vast, heavy creature for its meat and fat, and the practice of hunting these types of polar animals was banned in order to protect it from extinction.
24. Emperor Penguin:
It gathers in groups where the temperature in the middle of the group may reach about 37 degrees Celsius, and it is one of the only animals that breed in these cold winters, as it depends on the oceanic ice for feeding and reproduction. Variations in sea ice near Antarctica’s coast significantly affect the emperor penguin’s survival and ability to reproduce.
Like those of other penguin species, these polar animals populations are at an alarmingly increased risk due to the increase in global temperatures, as sea ice forms on Antarctic coasts and then breaks up, leading to an unsuitable environment for these species of penguins.
25. Beluga whales:
They are located at depths of more than 60 meters from the surface of frozen waters, where they live in family groups consisting of 10 or more whales.
26. Striped seals
Striped seals are scientifically known as Histriophoca fasciata. These polar animals are native to arctic regions and occur throughout the icy waters of the northern pacific and southern arctic oceans. Currently, there are three population groups of this fascinating animal.
27. Hooded seals
A polar animal mammal of the seal family and the order of carnivores. So named because of the presence of a swollen sac above the male’s nose, which extends up to 30 cm in length. It is familiar with living close to the shores in the Arctic waters and is abundant in the areas extending between the Spitzbergen Islands and Greenland to Nova Scotia in the south.
This polar animal is about 2.5 meters long and weighs approximately 400 kg. The female is usually slightly smaller than the male. The coat of the small calf is blue on the back, and the coat of the large calf is grey, spotted with brown on the back and white on the underside.
The Hooded Seal lives solitary most of the year but gathers in small groups during the breeding season and does not know much about its eating habits because it is difficult to monitor. After a gestation period that lasts about 12 months, the female gives birth between the months of March and April to one puppy, which she breastfeeds for four weeks, after which he becomes able to hunt for his food.
28. Bearded seal
It belongs to one of the four arctic seal species that inhabit the Arctic Ocean, as well as the Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort seas in Alaska. As a species in the true seal family, the bearded seal is closely related to the grey and harp seals. Thick white moustaches along the snout. It resembles a “beard,” which gives this moustache its common name.
This polar animal is the largest of all arctic seals, reaching a length of eight feet and weighing 575-800 pounds. Since they have an additional layer of skin under their skin in the winter and early spring, these seals frequently put on weight. Sea ice is an essential part of daily life. For bearded seals, ice floes are used to rest between foraging and during the breeding season. Bearded seals are known for perching on ice floes to escape predators quickly.
These polar animals don’t dive very deep; instead, they forage in shallow coastal waters and are rarely forced to go deeper than 200–300 metres. Puppies can dive to deeper depths (up to 450 m) during their first year, but older and more seasoned animals stay in shallower waters.
Bearded seals consume a wide variety of prey, but they are mostly bottom feeders, consuming fish, shellfish, shrimp, crabs, and other small animals that they find close to, on, or on the ocean floor. They catch their prey by employing a mix of water jetting and suction, and they can use their whiskers to seek soft-bottom sediments to find buried prey.
During six months, the sun never stops shining at the poles (spring and summer). The “polar days” are these months. It is known as the “polar night” because it is concealed in the other six (fall and winter).
Types of Arctic Climate
Although we might assume that there is only one kind of polar climate, there are actually two types:
- Tundra: A barren plain, a tundra is one in which little flora, primarily short grasses, grows. As we approach the polar rings, there is virtually no vegetation in the area. Here, a variety of vegetation and animals, including the polar bear, reside.
- Ice or glacier: Altitudes above 4,700 metres equate to ice or glaciers. The temperature is constantly below zero, which is excessively low.
In Antarctica, shallow caloric values are noted. The Antarctic Peninsula and coastal parts have tundra climates, where the minimum temperature in winter can reach -83 degrees Celsius or higher while the average summer temperature is 0 degrees. -17 degrees Celsius is the average annual temperature.
It receives little sunlight because up to 90% of it is reflected off the ice, keeping the surface from heating up. Because of this, Antarctica is referred to as “Earth’s Refrigerator”.
Despite not being as extreme as the Antarctic, the Arctic has an extremely intense climate. The winters are extremely cold, with lows as low as -45 and even -68 degrees Celsius. The most comfortable temperature throughout the summer, which lasts between six and ten weeks, is 10 degrees Celsius.
Even throughout the summer in coastal areas, humidity is quite low. The water hardly evaporates the rest of the year due to the extremely cold temperature. Precipitation is also quite uncommon, especially in the winter.
How do polar animals adapt to their environment?
These organisms can adapt to these harsh environments through their advantages and behaviours, such as:
Their bodies have a large amount of subcutaneous fat that helps them stay insulated from the heat coming from the water.
Some fish in these areas have anti-icing substances that keep their blood from freezing.
Thick and dense fur
It gives it the needed insulation from the harsh cold coming from the air. Warm-blooded: These animals are warm-blooded, as they can maintain their body temperature.
Most of these animals are large in relation to their area, as this reduces their heat loss.
Their tips are small to reduce undue heat loss. Carnivores: They are all considered carnivores, as they eat food rich in high energy to generate the energy they need for the body.
Being in settlements or gathering in large numbers generates heat and keeps out the cold.
Some of them move to the water to avoid low temperatures and strong winds and may migrate if the water temperature drops too much.
To sum up, despite its very cold weather, large numbers of animals have been able to adapt and live in this weather, which in its best conditions will be below zero, which makes the polar animals of the Arctic impressive.
If you enjoyed learning about this stunning animal, why not check out more exciting facts about other animals: Koalas, Land Animals, Sharks, Raccoons, Moon and Sun Bears, Rats, Chickens, Cats, Pandas, Monkeys, endangered animals, waterfowl and Whales.