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39 Examples of Arctic Animals (A to Z List & Pictures)

examples of arctic animals

Animals that live in the arctic include arctic fox, arctic tern, sea otter, snow goose, and the spotted seal.

The Arctic is a vast white wilderness that stretches across the northernmost regions of North America, Europe, and Asia.

This region has a cold climate with an average temperature is  -30° F (-34°C)well below freezing for most of the year.

Animals have adapted to life in this harsh environment by developing fur coats, webbed feet, and other adaptations that help them survive in this extreme habitat.

Time of yearNorth PoleSouth Pole
Summer32° F (0° C)−18° F (−28.2° C)
Winter−40° F (−40° C)−76° F (−60° C)

Examples of Animals that Live in The Arctic

1. Arctic Fox

Arcitc fox in the snow
Scientific NameVulpes lagopus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic and alpine tundra
DietOmnivore

The Arctic fox has a thick, white fur coat that provides excellent insulation against the cold. Its feet are covered with fur to protect it from the extreme temperatures of its environment and its long tail can wrap around its body for even more warmth.

The arctic fox is able to change between lighter summer colors and darker winter colors as the season’s change in this cold habitat.

2. Arctic Hare

Arctic Hare
Scientific NameLepus arcticus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeCanadian Arctic islands and Northern Canada
DietHerbivore

Arctic foxes and wolves prey on the Arctic hare. The polar bear is also a predator of this animal, but they do live in habitats where these two species overlap.

Arctic hares have been observed using their long legs to outrun predators that catch up to them by sprinting at speeds approaching 60 kilometers per hour.

3. Arctic Skua

Arctic Skua
Scientific NameStercorarius parasiticus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic
DietCarnivore

The Arctic skua is a large bird that lives in the arctic regions of both North America and Eurasia.

This animal has adapted to its cold habitat by growing feathers that are twice as thick as those found on other birds.

4. Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern
Scientific NameSterna paradisaea
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic
DietCarnivore

The Arctic Tern is a seabird that lives in the cold waters around the arctic. It has long wings and tail streamers, which allow it to fly for thousands of miles at high speeds during its migration across the globe each year.

5. Arctic Wolf

arctic wolf
Scientific NameCanis lupus arctos
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe Arctic regions of North America and Greenland
DietCarnivore

The Arctic Wolf is one of the smallest wolves of the wolf family that lives in cold regions throughout the world. This animal has adapted to its harsh environment by growing thick white fur during winter and shedding this coat for summer when food is more plentiful.

6. Arctic Woolly Bear Moth

Woolly Bear Moth
Scientific NameGynaephora groenlandica
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeArctic in the Canadian archipelago
DietHerbivore

The Arctic Woolly Bear Moth is a large silk moth that lives in the northernmost regions of Asia, North America, and the Arctic.

They live on rocky slopes, grassy plateaus, or tundra habitats where they feed on heathers during their summer months before hibernating through winter inside rock crevices.

7. Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle
Scientific NameHaliaeetus leucocephalus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeAlaska, Arctic, and Canada
DietCarnivore

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States. It lives throughout North America and can be found near large bodies of water in some areas, including saltwater estuaries, rivers, lakes, or marshes.

Bald eagles are rarely seen on land outside their nests because they typically feed along coasts where prey fish either breed or migrate.

8. Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Goose
Scientific NameBranta leucopsis
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic coasts from northeastern Greenland east to Siberia
DietHerbivore

The barnacle goose is the largest bird that nests in the tundra. They can weigh up to 4 pounds and grow nearly 28 inches long.

When these geese hatch they have white downy feathers but quickly molt to their adult plumage.

9. Bearded Seal

Bearded Seal
Scientific NameErignathus barbatus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic
DietOmnivore

The bearded seal has a thick layer of blubber that helps protect it from the cold winds and freezing water of the arctic.

It also has two layers of fur on its body, which keeps it warm in these harsh conditions. The skin underneath is black to absorb heat when basking in the sun.

10. Beluga Whale

beluga whale
Scientific NameDelphinapterus leucas
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic Ocean
DietCarnivore

The beluga whale is one of the most well-known animals that live in this icy habitat. These whales are white with a slight shade of gray on their backs, bellies, and fins when they are young but when they reach adulthood they are pure white.

They have rounded foreheads which give them a bonnet-like appearance. The mouth lines up exactly to their eyes instead of being angled down like most other whale species.

11. Bowhead Whale

Scientific NameBalaena mysticetus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic Ocean
DietHerbivore

The bowhead whale is the largest mammal living in the Arctic. Adult whales can weigh as much as 54 tons and have been known to reach lengths of 60 feet!

They stay warm by swimming through the cold waters, allowing their thick blubber layer to insulate them from the frigid water temperatures.

12. Brunnich’s Guillemots

Guillemot
Scientific NameUria lomvia
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic
DietCarnivore

Brunnich’s Guillemots live in the Arctic and breed on cliffs along rocky shores. They often nest right next to each other which can result in large, messy colonies.

13. Canada Goose

canada geese
Scientific NameBranta canadensis
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic, Canada
DietHerbivore

The Canada Goose is a common bird in the Arctic and other cold climates. They have an average wingspan of between 4.2-6.1 ft. Their body length ranges from 29.9 – 43.3 inches and their weight can range from 7 – 14 pounds.

This large, heavy animal has adapted to the cold climates by growing a thick, insulated downy undercoat which they can fluff up during colder months.

14. Common Eider

Eider
Scientific NameSomateria mollissima
Type of AnimalBird
RangeEurope, North America and eastern Siberia
DietOmnivore

Common Eiders spend their winters in coastal areas, mainly along Arctic sea coasts where they are sometimes found feeding alongside other waterfowl such as Goldeneyes, Oldsquaws, and Red-breasted Mergansers.

They will also migrate to freshwater lakes during this time of year if there is open water.

15. Dall Sheep

dall sheep
Scientific NameOvis dalli
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAlaska and Canada
DietHerbivore

The Dall sheep is a large, wild goat that lives in the cold tundra of Alaska. They are most active at dawn and dusk when they move around to feed on grasses, sedges, and other plants found near small streams or ponds.

16. Ermine

Ermine
Scientific NameMustela erminea
Type of AnimalWeasel
Rangethe northern stretch of temperate and arctic territory
DietCarnivore

Ermines are small carnivorous mammals that live throughout much of the Arctic. Their name is thought to have come from a Middle English word for “white weasel.”

Ermines have long, slender bodies with short limbs and tails. Their coats tend to be pale yellow-brown in the summertime but their fur turns completely white (except for the tip of the tail) during winter months.

17. Greenland Shark

Tiger Shark
Scientific NameSomniosus microcephalus
Type of AnimalFish
RangeArctic and North Atlantic oceans
DietCarnivore

The Greenland Shark is the largest predatory fish in the Arctic region. This slow-moving shark lives at great depths (up to 7200 feet) and often swims up closer to shore during warmer months when other food sources are more plentiful for this apex predator.

18. Grey Whale

gray whale
Scientific NameEschrichtius robustus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic
DietOmnivore

The grey whale is the only species of cetacean that lives in The Arctic. They are usually found close to shore where they feed on invertebrates that reside on the ocean floor, but during their migration season between March through June they can be seen migrating further north into arctic waters.

19. Harp Seal

Harp Seal
Scientific NamePagophilus groenlandicus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangecold waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
DietOmnivore

The harp seal is one of the most common seals in the Arctic Circle. It gets its name from a series of lines on its coat that resemble a harp or lyre.

Harp seals are small compared to other arctic animals, growing around six feet long and weighing up to 300 pounds as adults.

20. Hooded Seal

hooded seal
Scientific NameCystophora cristata
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangecold waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans
DietOmnivore

The hooded seal is found on ice floes in the Arctic Ocean. It has thick, silver-grey in color with irregular black spots covering most of the body.

The male seals are larger than females; at birth, they weigh about 105 lbs while adult males can weigh up to 610 lbs and measure up to 7.6 ft long.

21. Lemmings

lemming
Scientific NameLemmini
Type of AnimalRodent
RangeArctic
DietHerbivore

One of the most iconic animals that live in this region is the tiny lemming. Lemmings are small, stocky rodents with short legs and tails found across the arctic.

They grow between 13–18 cm (5–7 in) in length and weigh around 23–34 g (0.8–1.2 oz).

They have brown fur on their backs and white fur on their bellies. They have short ears and a small tail that they can curl up into a ball or puff out to help them regulate the temperature in the extreme cold of the tundra.

22. Minke Whale

Minke Whale
Scientific NameBalaenoptera acutorostrata
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
DietCarnivore

The minke whale is an abundant species that can be found in the cold waters of all oceans. This baleen whale typically migrates to colder climes during the summer months and will migrate back toward warmer climates when winter comes around.

23. Moose

moose
Scientific NameAlces alces
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeforest areas close to the Arctic tundra
DietHerbivore

The forest regions near the Arctic tundra are home to moose, which are known as arctic elk. There are six distinct subspecies of moose living in the subarctic forests today. Moose have big bodies and long legs, a drooping nose, and a “bell” or dewlap under the jaw.

24. Musk Ox

Musk Ox
Scientific NameOvibos moschatus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe arctic tundra of northern Canada and Greenland
DietHerbivore

The Musk ox is a large herbivore that lives in the arctic regions of Canada and Greenland.

It eats grass, flowers, shrubs, and mosses which allow them to survive during winter months when other food sources are scarce or covered in snow.

25. Narwhal

Scientific NameMonodon monoceros
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic
DietCarnivore

The narwhal is a species of whale that has been hunted by Inuit hunters for thousands of years. Narwhals live in small family groups and they are typical to the Arctic waters.

They have two teeth, one long tusk which grows from the upper jaw and protrudes straight out like an elephant’s trunk.

26. Orca

orca
Scientific NameOrcinus orca
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAll oceans
DietCarnivore

The Orca is a large toothed whale that lives in cold water and eats fish, seals, and other marine mammals. These whales can be found swimming through all of the world’s oceans from tropical regions up into polar waters near the North Pole during springtime!

27. Polar Bears

polar bears
Scientific NameUrsus maritimus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic
DietCarnivore

The polar bear is the largest carnivore in the Arctic and one of the top predators that prey on many other animals living there.

It has a thick layer of blubber to provide insulation from this harsh environment, but it also hunts for food by being an excellent swimmer.

The polar bear can swim long distances in the ocean to find food and it also hunts for many animals on land like the ringed seal.

28. Ptarmigan

Rock Ptarmigan
Scientific NameLagopus muta
Type of AnimalBird
Rangealpine and arctic tundras
DietHerbivore

Ptarmigan are medium-sized birds that live in the arctic regions of North America, Eurasia, and Greenland.

They have brown plumage on their backs which helps them camouflage with rocks, grasses, and shrubs found during summer months when they molt into breeding colors for mating season.

29. Puffin

Puffin
Scientific NameFratercula
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic
DietOmnivore

A puffin is a type of bird that lives in the Arctic regions. These brightly-colored seabirds are named because their feathers look like cotton balls or puffs which they can puff up for warmth.

Puffins have short wings to help them glide through the water and use their bright orange beaks to hunt fish underwater.

30. Purple Sandpiper

Sandpiper
Scientific NameCalidris maritima
Type of AnimalBird
Rangethe north-eastern parts of Arctic Canada
DietCarnivore

The purple sandpiper is a type of shorebird that can be found in the Arctic tundra. This bird has evolved to cope with the cold climate by growing thicker feathers and shorter wings, which help it conserve body heat during chilly winter months.

31. Ribbon Seal

Ribbon Seal
Scientific NameHistriophoca fasciata
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth Pacific Ocean and Arctic
DietCarnivore

The ribbon seal is a species of earless seal that lives in the Arctic. It has adapted to its environment by having black skin with thick grey-brown fur in order to provide its insulation from the cold weather.

They also have large, flat flippers which help them move quickly over ice and come equipped with sharp claws for catching prey.

32. Ringed Seal

Ringed Seal
Scientific NamePusa hispida
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic Basin
DietOmnivore

The ringed seal is the smallest type of true seal in the world. It can be found throughout most of the Arctic regions and spends all year on sea ice, which it uses as a platform to give birth and nurse its young pups.

33. Sea Otter

Sea Otter
Scientific NameEnhydra lutris
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangenorthern and eastern North Pacific Ocean
DietCarnivore

The sea otter is a small marine mammal that lives in the ocean along coastlines. It has webbed feet and thick fur with two layers; an insulating undercoat and guard hairs (the waterproof top-layer).

34. Snow Goose

snow geese
Scientific NameChen caerulescens
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic tundra
DietHerbivore

7This large goose breeds in northern Canada and winters much further south. It has a wide geographic range, living around the Arctic all year long.

The snow goose subsists mainly on vegetation like grasses, sedges, and berries during summer months when food is plentiful;

35. Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe Hare
Scientific NameLepus americanus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic tundra
DietHerbivore

The Snowshoe Hare is a small hare that has evolved over time to have large feet and long legs. This adaptation helps it walk on top of the snow without sinking in as well as run quickly across the surface of the snow.

The Snowshoe Hare also changes color from summer brown to winter white, which allows them to blend into their environment.

36. Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
Scientific NameBubo scandiacus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeArctic tundra
DietCarnivore

The Snowy Owl is well known for its white plumage, but it has darker spots on the back of its head and neck.

This owl hunts at night and day in both summer and winter by flying low over open areas looking down with their great eyesight to spot small rodents or birds that are hiding below.

37. Spotted Seal

Spotted Seal
Scientific NamePhoca largha
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic and Antarctic waters
DietOmnivore

The spotted seal is a small, dark-colored seal that can be found in the Arctic waters. These seals have particularly dense fur coats and large webbed feet that help them find food in cold water.

38. Svalbard Reindeer

reindeer
Scientific NameRangifer tarandus platyrhynchus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeEuropean High Arctic
DietHerbivore

This species of reindeer is unique because it lives in the Arctic year round. They are also very small compared to other species.

39. Walrus

Walrus
Scientific NameOdobenus rosmarus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeArctic and sub-Arctic regions
DietOmnivore

The walrus live in the Arctic and spend its life on or near ice floes. It feeds on clams, crabs, and other invertebrates that it digs from beneath the seafloor.

They also eat fish such as herring, smelt, and capelin along with small crustaceans like krill.

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