The Arctic is a hostile environment, yet the species on the following Arctic animals list are able to thrive either on the tundra or in the icy waters that surround the North Pole.
Many Arctic animals have evolved special adaptations and behaviours to deal with the extreme cold and hostile environment. 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.
This list of Arctic animals includes species that live within the Arctic Circle, and also those that live in the Subarctic – the area immediately below (south of) the Arctic. You can click on many of the pictures to find more facts and figures about the animal.
- View / download a FREE Arctic animals worksheet for this page here: Free Printable Worksheets.
- If you want to know more about the Arctic, you’ll find all of the facts here: Arctic Facts.
- Discover more amazing animals here: Animals: The Ultimate Guide.
Arctic Animals List
A list of Arctic animals with pictures and facts. Follow the links for further information about an animal.
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.
You can find out more about the Arctic Fox here.
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.
However, all that additional insulation doesn’t slow them down. These fast movers are able to reach speeds of up to 60 km/h (40 mph)!
You can find out more about Arctic Hares here: Arctic Hare Facts.
The Arctic Tern is one of nature’s true explorers. Flying over 19,000 km in a year, these incredible birds see more daylight hours than any other creature, and experience two summers every year.
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.
Due to its Arctic habitat, the Arctic Wolf has been hunted by humans less than other wolves.
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.
You can read more about Bald Eagles here.
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.
Learn more about Beluga Whales here: Beluga Whale Facts.
Caribou / Reindeer
Caribou are also known as reindeer in Europe. These animals have several cold-climate adaptations, including enlarged chambers in the nose to warm up the cold Arctic air and hooves that get smaller and harder in the winter to give better grip in the ice and snow.
The North American Caribou herds have the longest migrations of any land mammal.
Find out more about caribou here: Caribou Facts.
The Dall Sheep is found in Subarctic areas of Alaska and Canada. It lives in rocky, mountainous regions, and is an excellent climber.
Ermine / Stoat
The Stoat, or Ermine, is a member of the weasel family. The name ‘ermine’ is sometimes only used to refer to the animal while in its white winter coat.
Although small, stoats are capable hunters, and are capable of preying on animals larger than themselves such as rabbits. Stoats will even use their victim’s burrows to live in rather than digging their own.
Native to the North Atlantic Ocean around Canada and Greenland, Greenland sharks live further north than any other type of shark. Greenland sharks are rather slow swimmers and prefer to catch prey while it is sleeping. They also scavenge food left by other predators.
Learn more about Greenland Sharks here: Greenland Shark Facts.
The harp seal is born with a yellow coat that turns white after three days. As the animal gets older it becomes silvery-grey. Harp seals have a thick coat of blubber to keep them warm, and their flippers act as heat exchangers which cool them down in the summer and warm them up in the winter.
Lemmings are small rodents with long, soft fur. They are herbivorous, and eat grasses, roots, and leaves. Lemmings remain active during the winters rather than hibernating. They stock up on grasses before the winter, and burrow under the snow to find food.
You can learn more about lemmings here: Lemming Facts.
Moose are the largest members of the deer family. These large-antlered animals are most commonly found in Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Scandinavia. Moose are unique among deer in that they are solitary and don’t live in herds. Although usually slow moving, moose can become agile and aggressive when frightened or angered.
Learn more about Moose here: Moose Facts.
During the mating season, the male Musk Ox produces a musky odour to attract females, which is how the animals get their name. Musk Oxen have thick fur coats to keep them warm. Both males and females have long, curved horns.
You can find out more about the Musk Ox here: Musk Ox Facts.
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.
You can read more narwhal facts here.
Also known as the killer whale, this toothed whale is a member of the dolphin family. Orcas have distinctive black backs and white chest and eye patches. Orcas prey on other marine creatures, often working in a group. Orcas are apex predators, having no natural predators themselves.
Find out more orca facts here.
No arctic animals list would be complete without the polar bear. Polar bears are marine mammals. They are able to swim long distances in cold waters and are also fast movers on the land. Polar bears are the largest type of bear.
Find out more about these awesome Arctic animals here.
Ptarmigans have white plumage during the winter which provides camouflage against the snow. Ptarmigans feed on fruit and berries in the summer, and forage for food under the snow in winter. Ptarmigans are also known as ‘rock ptarmigans’ and ‘snow chickens’.
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 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.
Sea otters are the heaviest mustelids (members of the weasel family, Mustelidae), but are one of the smallest marine mammals. Sea otters have thick fur coats for insulation, and they tend to spend more time in the water than on the land.
Find out more about sea otters here.
Snow geese raise their young in northern America and Canada at the start of summer, then migrate south in the winter. Snow geese tend to seek out farming fields when they migrate, and have bills adapted for digging roots out of the ground.
The snowshoe hare’s coat changes color from brown in the summer to white in the winter. This provides year-round camouflage. The species gets its name from its large, furry-soled hind feed. They are adapted to prevent the hare from sinking into the snow.
Find out more about the snowshoe hare here: Snowshoe Hare Facts.
The walrus is easy to recognise with its large tusks, long whiskers, and short flippers. These large, heavy creatures used to be hunted for their meat and fat. This practice has now been banned in order to protect the species.
Want to find out more about walruses? Click to visit our walrus facts page.
The wolverine has a well-deserved reputation for being a ferocious predator that isn’t afraid to take on animals bigger than itself. Like the sea otter (see above), the wolverine is a member of the weasel (mustelidae) family.
You can learn more about the wolverine here: Wolverine Facts.
Arctic Animals List: Conclusion
We hope that you’ve enjoyed this list of Arctic animals. Now that you’ve met the region’s wildlife, why not discover more about the Arctic itself? You’ll find some incredible facts here: Arctic Facts.
Or, take a look at our other animal lists pages:
- African Animals List
- Endangered Animals List
- Rainforest Animals List
- Australian Animals List
- Animals: The Ultimate Guide.