Animals in the Arctic

The Arctic has a wide variety of animals. The North Pole is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean which is surrounded by the land masses of North America, Europe and Asia so there is a land connection to the south meaning that land animals can more easily reach the Arctic.

Many Arctic animals have evolved special adaptations and behaviours to deal with the extreme cold environments. These include: thick, multi-layered coats; fur that changes color with the seasons; layers of fat for insulation; seasonal migration; and hibernation during the winter.

Polar Bears

Polar Bears are marine mammals and only live in the Arctic. They are uniquely suited to life in the Arctic and spend much of their time on Arctic sea ice. Their fur is thicker than any other bears' and even covers their feet for warmth and to help them walk on the ice. They are excellent swimmers and a thick layer of blubber beneath their fur provides insulation and buoyancy in the water.

Arctic Fox

The Arctic Fox has several adaptations that enable it to live in the Arctic environment. The most obvious of these is its fur, which changes color from brown in the summer to white during the winter. This thick coat provides both camouflage and insulation.



Arctic Hares

Arctic Hares have smaller noses and ears than other hares; this prevents heat from being lost from these uninsulated areas. 20% of their body is fat – another adaptation for living in extreme Arctic conditions.


Arctic Wolf

One of our favourite animals on the Arctic animals list, the Arctic Wolf is found in Canada’s frozen north. This Grey Wolf subspecies is smaller than the similar North-Western Wolf (another wolf subspecies) and has narrower features.

Believe it or not, the Arctic wolf is the same species as your pet dog! Domestic dogs and Arctic wolves are both subspecies of Grey wolf, Canis lupus.


Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle is America’s national animal. Not just an Arctic animal, the bald eagle can be seen across North America from Canada to Mexico. The bird gets its name on account of its white head feathers. These birds are often seen swooping down to snatch fish out of the water.At one time there were only about 2,000 bald eagles.

Beluga Whale

Beluga whales are found around the coasts of Russia, North America and Greenland. They are highly social, and usually found in small groups of around 10 animals. Their pure white color provides camouflage under the Arctic ice. The snow-white beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) is one of the most distinctive of all cetaceans (a group that includes dolphins, whales and porpoises)




Puffins are built for swimming as well as for flying, having short wings that can propel them through the water. Puffins have black and white feathers and brightly-colored bills. They usually live in colonies on cliffs above the water from where they can easily dive down and find food. The fresh heart of a puffin is eaten raw as a traditional Icelandic delicacy.


Ringed Seal

The ringed seal is the smallest type of seal. It has a small, cat-like head and a plump body. The ringed seal gets its name from its coat, which is brown with silver rings on the back and side. The ringed seal preys on small fish. While feeding, ringed seals dive to depths of 35 to 150 ft



Narwhals are medium-sized whales with one highly distinguishing feature: a long tusk that projects from the front of their heads. The tusk is in fact an extended front tooth. Narwhals spend the whole year in the arctic waters surrounding Russia, Greenland, and Canada. The scientific name Monodon Monoceros comes from Greek words meaning "one-tooth one-horn" and they are sometimes called the Unicorns of the Sea.

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