Humans survive the cold often by staying inside and warming by fires, wearing warm clothing, and enjoying hot drinks. The animals that live where winters grow harsh and the terrains are rugged have to depend on other defenses. Arctic and subarctic animals have developed multiple ways to survive the most frigid and harshest winters. Here are 10 animals that thrive in extremely cold temperatures, prevailing over their natural habitats to live in such frosty conditions.
10. Musk Oxen
The outer layer of the musk ox covers up a second, insulating undercoat that helps the animal withstand the frigid Arctic winter. Musk oxen live mostly in Arctic Canada and Greenland, feeding on roots and mosses of the tundra. Their hooves are sharp for digging through snow and ice for food. They use their long, curved horns as a defense against predators. They group together, huddling close to stay warm and protect the herd from predators.
9. Arctic Hare
The Arctic hare’s shorter ears help save body heat, and it has a thick fur coat to help keep it warm. While it doesn’t hibernate, it digs burrows underground to stay warm. They survive in the winter by digging plants and twigs out of the snow to eat. Their fur changes color according to the seasons. They’re white in the winter which helps camouflage them from their natural predators. Like musk oxen, they huddle together in groups for protection and warmth.
8. Snow Leopard
Snow leopards are known for their distinctive, thick fur. They have a white, soft gray, or yellowish coat with spots of black on brown. The markings are their camouflage to help hide them from prey. Their thick coats, furry tails, and furry paws make snow leopards perfectly suited for the cold, dry mountains of Central Asia, where they live at altitudes between 9,800 feet to 17,000 feet. It is estimated that there are fewer than 7,000 snow leopards left in the wild, with about 700 in captivity.
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