Tundra Animals

Tundra includes some of the most inhospitable regions in the world, characterized by sub-zero temperatures and short growing seasons. The three geographically distinct regions are the Arctic tundra, alpine tundra, and the Antarctic tundra. Vegetation in these regions comprises of sedge, moss, lichen, dwarf shrub, and grass, while larger trees may also grow in a scattered fashion.

Animals living in these regions need special adaptations to deal with the extreme cold. Even with the hostile climatic conditions, there are hundreds of types of mammals, birds, and aquatic animals found here.

Tundra Animals

What animals live in the tundra

Arctic tundra animals

Ruddy turnstone Harbor seal
Arctic lamprey Arctic fox
Polar bear Beluga whale
Harlequin duck Rock ptarmigan
Arctic hare Arctic tern
Arctic wolf Caribou
Bald eagle Dall sheep
Stoat Harp seal
Greenland shark Lemming
Moose Narwhal
Muskox Orca
Horned puffin Sea otter
Ringed seal Snow goose
Snowshoe hare Wolverine
Walrus Mountain goat
Snowy owl Tundra Shrew
Snow bunting Arctic fulmar
North American porcupine Arctic ground squirrel
Tundra vole Arctic loon
Peregrine falcon Tundra swan
Ross’s gull Arctic bumblebee
Common raven Grizzly bear

Alpine tundra animals

Hoary marmot American pika
Mountain goat Himalayan tahr
Elk Snow quail
White-tailed ptarmigan Prairie falcon
Mule deer Bushy-tailed wood rat (Packrat)
Coyote Yellow-bellied marmot
Water pipit Clark’s nutcracker
Horned lark Rosy finch
White-crowned sparrow Golden-mantled ground squirrel
Bobcat Red fox
Mule deer Bighorn sheep
American badger Canada lynx
Snow leopard Wild yak
Alpine musk deer Himalayan musk deer

Antarctic tundra animals

Chinstrap penguin Gentoo penguin
Macaroni penguin Adelie penguin
Yellow-eyed penguin Blue whale
Weddell seal Sea leopard
Minke whale Blue-eyed shag
Humpback whale Spectacled porpoise
Southern bottlenose whale Fin whale
Grey-headed albatross King penguin
Emperor penguin Southern rockhopper penguin
Wandering albatross Antipodean albatross
Southern royal albatross Shy albatross
Northern royal albatross Salvin’s albatross
Hall’s giant petrel Sooty albatross
Blue petrel Snow petrel
Cape petrel Antarctic petrel
White-headed petrel Salvin’s prion
Antarctic prion Fairy prion
White-chinned petrel Kerguelen petrel
Sooty shearwater Southern fulmar
Black-browed albatross Light-mantled albatross
Hall’s giant petrel Antarctic giant petrel
Slender-billed prion Wilson’s storm petrel
Great-winged petrel South Georgia diving petrel
Black-bellied storm petrel Grey-backed storm petrel
South Georgia diving petrel Imperial shag
Common diving petrel Yellow-billed pintail
Antarctic shag Brown skua
Snowy sheathbill Antarctic tern
Kelp gull South polar skua
Arctic tern Crabeater seal
Elephant seal Leopard seal
Sei whale Antarctic krill
Ross seal Patagonian toothfish

Adaptations: How do animals survive in the tundra biome

Surviving in the cold

  • Animals living in the tundra regions have thick fur and extra layers of fat to keep them insulated.
  • The bodies of most animals are large with short limbs and tails helping them to retain heat within their body as much as possible.
  • Birds of the tundra usually have two layers of thick feathers to stay warm.
  • Animals like bears, arctic squirrels, and marmots hibernate through the winter season.
  • Smaller animals like lemmings and stoats dig holes, known as burrows and spend the cold season in there.
  • Many animals, especially birds, migrate away from the Tundra during the winter season, and come back during the brief summers.

Locomoting on the snow

  • Most ground-dwelling species have a characteristic fur lining on their feet to prevent them from getting too cold when walking long distances.

Pictures of Tundra Animals

Camouflaging to the surroundings

  • Many animals of this region are white in color so they can blend in with the white snow, and use it as an effective camouflage. This adaptation is useful for both predator and prey. Arctic foxes lose their white fur in the summer to maintain the masquerade through that season.
  • Penguins have a unique coloration because of their regular forays in the water. For something that looks up towards the surface of the water, the penguin will blend in with the skies above, and for predatory birds looking into the water from above, it blends in with the black background of the sea floor.

Tundra Animal Food Chain

Optimizing food resources

  • The competition for food is naturally extremely high, especially during the winter months. So, many tundra animals have been seen to grow at a slower rate to optimize whatever little food they get during the summer.

Tundra Animal Pictures

Conservation status: Are there any endangered animals in the tundra

Because of the difficulty of access to humans, and the sheer inhospitable environment that it poses to humankind, most of the animals of the tundra ecosystem are relatively safe. Although the populations of some animals, like polar bears, Eskimo curlews, and the Arctic subspecies of the peregrine falcon, have been on a downward spiral for the past few decades because of the improvements in technology and man’s ability to finally catch up and deal with the harsh conditions of the tundra.

Tundra Animal Images

Did You Know?

  • The word tundra comes from the Finnish term ‘tunturia’, which means ‘treeless plains.’
  • The snow-covering of the ground is thick enough to actually provide ample insulation for burrowing animals.
  • Even during the summer season, the temperatures do not exceed 10°C (50°F), and the daytime hours can last for up to 24 hours in the Polar Regions.
  • The dominant animals in the tundra food chain, including the Arctic fox, polar bear, and Arctic wolf, obtain water from the body of their prey.
  • One example of a symbiotic relationship in the tundra would be where a fox follows a caribou in search of food so the latter can dig holes in the ground to get lichens for itself, exposing some subnivean animals in the process that the fox can feed on.
  • Polar bears rarely drink water; they chemically break down fat within their body to make water instead. The fat sources are replenished by feasting on the fatty parts of their prey, particularly the blubbers of seals. Most other parts of the seal’s body are left for scavengers.