10 Arctic Animals You Don't Typically See

  • slide 1

    Canada Lynx

    The Arctic has its own cast of characters, many of them highly unusual.  The Canada lynx, a relative of the bobcat, is also one of the most elusive. If you're lucky enough to spot one, you'll recognize it by the black tufts of hair in its ears and its over-sized furry feet, helpful when stalking across the surface of the snow. These majestic cats feed mainly on the equally hard-to-find Arctic hare.

    Photo courtesy of Keith Williams

  • slide 2

    Arctic Fox

    Thanks to a bushy, snowy white coat, the arctic fox can survive in temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit -- handy when you live almost exclusively in the Arctic Circle. These canines are found in nearly every Arctic ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere, but they have the honor of being Iceland's only native land mammal.

    Photo courtesy of em_j_bishop

  • slide 3

    Snowy Owl

    When most bird species head south for the winter, the snowy owl stays put and is the only Arctic bird species to do so. You can tell the age of a snowy owl by its coloration; adult male owls have pure white feathers while younger owls exhibit dark grey, spotted feathers. Adult females are white with grey spotting on their wings. Did you know Harry Potter's pet Hedwig was a snowy owl?

    Photo courtesy of Tambako The Jaguar

  • slide 4

    Narwhal

    The narwhal, or "unicorn of the sea," has got to be one of the world's most bizarre animals. This whale species indigious to the Arctic coastal and river waters is famous for the horn-like tusk that grows through the upper lip of male narwhals to a length of up to 9 feet. Scientists still aren't sure what the tusk is for.

    Photo courtesy of Glenn Williams

  • slide 5

    Caribou

    Those reindeer of Santa's that make an appearance around the holidays are actually domesticated caribou, the only species of deer where males and females both have antlers (though not all females do). The summer migration of the caribou in both North America and Asia is considered one of the most spectacular migrations on the planet -- a journey of up to 1,600 miles each year.

    Photo courtesy of peupleloup

  • slide 6

    Beluga Whale

    You may have seen a beluga whale at SeaWorld, but have you ever seen one in the wild? If you want to cross that off your bucket list, you'll have to head north to the waters off the coast of Alaska, Canada, Greenland or Russia, where the social whales spend much of their time in the Arctic or sub-Arctic waters.

    Photo courtesy of Travel Manitoba

  • slide 7

    Tundra Swan

    The white and black tundra swan spends its summers in the arctic before wintering on the southern coastlines of the United States, northern Africa and parts of Asia. If you want to see one of these snowy white birds, your best bet is to visit the Atlantic Coast stretch from the Chesapeake Bay to North Carolina, a favorite wintering ground after the birds have made the 1,800-mile flight south.

    Photo courtesy of Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation

  • slide 8

    Muskox

    The massive muskox has been inhabiting the planet's arctic tundras for thousands of years, digging through the snow to feed off frozen grasses in winter and filling up on flowers, grasses and other arctic plants during the summers. You'll often see them in herds of 20 to 30 animals, all led by a single female.

    Photo courtesy of Visit Greenland

  • slide 9

    Arctic Hare

    The speedy and well-camouflaged Arctic hare can be found in the harsh tundra of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. Their coats only turn white in the winter to help them hide from predators (like the lynx) in the snow, but in summers, they take on a dusty brown coloring.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Sayles

  • slide 10

    Wolverine

    The wolverine found in the arctic is a far cry from the superhero in the movies. While this little guy does have semi-retractable claws, they're mostly for digging. Wolverines are the largest member of the weasel family and generally feed on rabbits, rodents and sometimes weakened caribou in their habitats in the tundra and boreal forests of North America, Europe and Asia.

    Photo courtesy of Steve Hillebrand

About Lydia Schrandt

Lydia graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Philosophy and quickly bid farewell to the United States for good. She's traveled throughout Europe, Asia and South America, and has lived in Albuquerque, Galveston, Austin, Thailand, Korea, China, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil.

Lydia is currently "slow traveling" through South America in search of a place to call home. Florianopolis, Brazil currently serves as her base of operations. She speaks a little Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese, and loves cooking, photography, knitting and watching Spanish soccer. She hopes to get her first novel published in the next year.

Read more about Lydia Schrandt here.

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