Explore The North Pole With These 21 Fascinating Arctic Animals

Published May 14, 2021
Updated July 28, 2021

From the adorable to the ferocious, these unique arctic animals rule Earth's snow and ice.

The Arctic is a mysterious world of ice and snow, much of it still seldom explored and thus home to creatures that remain relatively enigmatic. It may seem like not much can survive in these freezing temperatures, but life is abundant.

Here are 21 of the most incredible Arctic animals you’ll ever see, with one fascinating fact for each:

Walrus

Arctic Animals Walrus
The walrus uses its whiskers to detect shellfish, like clams, all the way down the ocean floor. It can eat up to 4,000 clams in one sitting. MALTE CHRISTIANS/AFP/Getty Images

Beluga Whale

Beluga Whale
Beluga whales use complex musical calls to communicate underwater, earning them the nickname the "canary of the sea."Kazuhio Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Arctic Fox

Arctic Fox Sitting
Arctic foxes must penetrate layers of snow to find food, diving headfirst into the snow to burrow for prey.Eric Kilby/Flickr

Harp Seal

Harp Seal
A mother harp seal can distinguish her pup from hundreds of others based on smell alone. David Boily/AFP/Getty Images

Polar Bear

Polar Bear Walking
Though polar bears appear to be white, their fur is actually pigment-free and transparent. Its hollow core merely reflects the largely white light around them. Underneath their fur, their skin is black.PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

Canada Lynx

Canada Lynx Walking
Although these expert hunters, about twice the size of a house cat, subsist almost exclusively on one type of prey (the snowshoe hare), they can take down prey as large as a young reindeer.Wikimedia Commons

Snowshoe Hare

Snowshoe Hare
This rabbit's large hind feet work like snowshoes, preventing it from sinking into deep snow.Wikimedia Commons

Caribou

Caribou In Snow
Unlike all other kinds of deer, both male and female reindeer grow antlers.JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

Sea Otter

Sea Otter In Water
To counteract heat loss caused by its cold water environment, sea otters have to eat as much as a third of their own body weight in food each day. David McNew/Getty Images

Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear
Although this creature's scientific name (Ursus horribilis) literally means "terrifying bear," it isn't quite the killer you might expect. In fact, some estimates say that as much as 80-90 percent of its diet is made up not of meat, but plants, fruits, nuts, and roots.Karen Bleier/AFP/GettyImages

Dall Sheep

Dall Sheep
The male dall sheep's incredible horns, made of the same material as your fingernails, take as long as eight years to reach their full length of two-and-a-half feet.Wikimedia Commons

Arctic Orca

Arctic Orca
Killer whales are incredibly social animals, often working together to catch a meal. They've been recorded creating huge waves in the Arctic Ocean in order to knock seals off ice floes and into the water where they can be eaten. Wikimedia Commons

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle In Flight
When diving down through the air and toward the water for prey, these powerful creatures can travel at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour.David McNew/Getty Images

Puffin

Puffin
Puffins make amazing partners: They lay one egg per year with the same mate and take turns with domestic duties, like incubating the egg.Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Muskox

Muskox Group
If a muskox calf is threatened by a predator such as a wolf, the herd will form a circle around the calf in defense. Sometimes mature muskoxen will even scoop up an approaching wolf with its horns and throw it to the ground. US Fish and Wildlife Service/Getty Images

Snowy Owl

Snow Owl
Unlike most other owls, the snowy owl is diurnal, meaning it hunts during both night and day. Wikimedia Commons

Moose

Moose
Although a moose's enormous antlers can weigh as much as 40 pounds, these hefty adornments are not at all permanent. Instead, a moose will shed its antlers and grow them anew as often as once per year.Wikimedia Commons

Arctic Tern

Arctic Tern Soaring
Every year, the Arctic tern migrates from the Arctic to the Antarctica. That's a 25,000 mile trip — one way.Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Bowhead Whale

Bowhead Whale
Unlike many other species of whales, the bowhead whale does not migrate to warmer waters in the winter, but rather stays in Arctic waters all year round. They're able to do so largely because of their 20-inch layer of blubber, the thickest of any animal on Earth.Day Donaldson/Flickr

Narwhal

Narwhals Ice
The narwhal's distinctive tusk is actually an elongated tooth that can reach lengths of ten feet and is packed with millions of nerve endings. When two narwhals rub their tusks together, scientists now hypothesize they're communicating important information about the waters each have traveled through.Nat Geo Wild/YouTube

Wolverine

Wolverine
These small yet surprisingly fearsome carnivores are both intimidating hunters (with reported takedowns of far lager animals including caribou and elk) and relentless scavengers that can smell an animal carcass buried under as much as 20 feet of snow.Wikimedia Commons


After seeing these stunning arctic animals, check out these mesmerizing photos and facts from Antartica. Then, find out more about the weirdest animals around the world.

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