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Artic Animals

The Arctic & Its Animals

The Arctic is an exciting place full of animals and people. There are many types of animals that have their own habitat and it isn't all frozen. The animals vary in size and characteristics.
The Arctic has eight nations within it. They are Canada, Denmark (Greenland),Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. It is an area with 2 million people in it and over 50 languages. One reason that it is a very important area is because of how it affects the weather patterns in the northern hemisphere.

The arctic land is mainly tundra. This frozen ground is above the tree line and is covered with hearty plants like moss and lichen, which caribou and muskox feed on. The arctic animals are hearty creatures because low temperatures and precipitation with strong winds are not uncommon in the Arctic.

The different animals we've listed here live all over the Arctic. Most do not go below the arctic circle or 66-1/2 degrees north latitude. Each of them are vital and significant to each other and to the arctic people for survival.

The people of arctic Alaska depend on the caribou and muskox for most of their food and clothing. Some villages in Greenland and arctic Canada depend on the narwhal for their entire existence!

A wide range of marine mammals and fish live in the severe conditions of the Arctic ocean. Whales, dolphins (narwhal), walruses and seals all make their home in this North Polar region which is covered by ice most of the year. The great polar bear depends on these marine mammals and fish for his survival.

We hope you'll learn about the animals and ways of the arctic from my site just like I learned and enjoyed making it!


Arctic Fox (Alopex lagopus)

The arctic fox lives farther north than any other fox. They are well adapted for the cold harsh weather of the Arctic. The arctic fox can hunt lemming that they can't see beneath the snow, but if the arctic fox can't kill enough to eat, it will settle for leftovers from other animals.



Characteristics and Physical Features of the Arctic Fox
Identification:
Height: Height at shoulder 10-12 in. (25-30 cm.)
Weight: They weigh from 6 to 10 pounds.
Color: Normally white in winter and brownish grey in summer.

Distinguishing Characteristics: The arctic fox has the warmest fur of any mamma, even warmer than the polar bear and arctic wolf.

Breeding: Mating occurs in early March and early April. Gestation lasts 52 days. Litters average seven pups but may contain as many as 15 pups.

Habitat:
Range: Northern and western Alaska and Canada Northern Canada south to northern Northwest Territories, northeast Alberta, northern Manitoba, northern Quebec, Russia, and Greenland; a few records indicate presence farther south.

Diet: Arctic fox feed primarily on small mammals, including lemmings and tundra voles. Fox denning near rocky cliffs along the seacoast often depend heavily on nesting seabirds such as auklets, puffins, and murres.



Can arctic fox be different colors?
Arctic fox can be either gray-blue or white. The blue coloration is not as common as the white. Young of each color may occur in the same litter.

How do arctic fox stay camouflaged in the summer if they are white?
As summer begins, the arctic fox sheds its white coat for a brown one, perfect cover for summer. The change back to a winter coat occurs in September and October. By November the white winter coat is complete. Foxes of the blue coloring remain dark or charcoal colored all year but become a little lighter in winter.

How do arctic fox find food if there are no birds or lemmings?

Arctic fox are scavengers, and will eat almost anything, including what polar bears have left behind when they have feasted. Also, when food is plentiful they will bury it for later.

How has the arctic fox adapted to the Arctic?

The arctic fox's adaptation to its subzero habitat include a compact body with short legs, short ears, dense fur, and thickly haired foot pads, which insulate against the cold and provide traction on ice.

How do arctic fox use things other animals have made?

Arctic fox sometimes will enlarge ground squirrel burrows with several entrances and use the burrows for dens.

How do arctic fox catch lemmings and small rodents that are under the snow?

Arctic fox walk along on top of the snow listening for the small creatures under the snow. When they hear one they jump up and down to break through the snow with their front paws. Once the snow is broken they can grab their prey.

How do the arctic people benefit from the arctic fox?

Arctic fox have very warm fur that can be used for clothing and can be sold or traded.


Arctic Hare (Lepus arcticus & othus)
The arctic hare is not the same thing as a snowshoe hare. It is not even the same as a rabbit. There are two hare that live in Arctic areas - they are the arctic hare and the tundra hare. The major difference between them is where they live, and the color their tail turns. The arctic hare is larger than a snowshoe. His fur is long and white all the way through in the winter and his ears are blackish around the edges. In the summer his coat is grayish brown on top and white beneath.



Characteristics and Physical Features of the Arctic Hare
Identification:
Size: 22-28 in.
Weight: 9-12 lb.
Color: Brown in the summer, white in the winter. Ears tipped with black year round.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Short ears, and a fur coat that changes color with the seasons make the arctic and tundra hare special.

Breeding: Leverets born June thru July. Usually there are 4-8 in a litter. They are fully furred and have their eyes open.

Habitat:
Range: Lepus articus live in Canada and Greenland. Lepus othus lives only in Alaska. The arctic hare likes to live on the rocky slopes and upland tundra of the Arctic. They like to live in groups. They don't like to live in low places or wooded areas.

Diet: The food they eat is mostly willow - the leaves, shoots, bark and roots - and grasses, flowers, saxifrage and crowberry.



How is a hare different from a rabbit?
The major difference between a rabbit and a hare is that the young of a hare are born open-eyed and furred. The rabbit's young are born naked and with closed eyes. Hare are able to leave the nest soon after they are born but rabbits don't even open their eyes for 7-10 days.

Some people say that the length of the ears is part of the difference but arctic hare have short ears while hare outside of Arctic areas have long ears.

Why does an arctic hare have camouflage?
The arctic hare looks a lot different from the rabbits and hares that you see anywhere outside of the Arctic. In the summertime the arctic hare is brown with black flecks. This helps to camouflage it during the growing season. When the weather starts to change the arctic hare starts to change too. So that during the winter its coat is completely white. This change helps to protect it during the winter.

Why are the ears of an arctic hare so short?
The ears are so small to help keep the hare warm during the cold winters on the tundra. The small ears do not have a lot of area to have the blood vessels exposed to the cold so more heat is kept down in the body to help the hare stay warm.

What is the world's smallest "Big Foot"?
Arctic hare would fit this description. The feet of an arctic hare are huge compared to other rabbits. Having big feet is like having snowshoes. They help them to stay on top of the snow. If they could not do this they wouldn't be able to get away from their predators.

When do snowballs jump?
Arctic hare sit out on the tundra in large groups. Whenever threatened by a wolf or fox or other predator they scatter in all directions. This makes it harder for them to be caught. It looks sort of like big snowballs jumping around the tundra.

What is a baby arctic hare called?
You call a baby hare a leveret. When an arctic hare has a litter there are usually 4-8 leverets born. The leverets are born in June in the Arctic areas. They are darker than their parents and their fur is sort of black looking.

Where do arctic hares live?
Unlike rabbits arctic hares like to live in nests. Rabbits prefer to live in burrows. This is good because it would be very hard for a arctic hare to dig a burrow in the Arctic.

How do arctic people benefit from the arctic hare?
The Arctic people do not eat the arctic hare a lot. It is not one of the more important foods for them. They prefer other meats and only eat hare if nothing else is available. They use the fur for shoe linings and robes.












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