The Arctic is one of Earth's coolest environments, literally. Here, temperatures get as cold as negative 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The Artic itself is a frozen ocean, and since ice has a specific melting point, the Arctic is in great danger from global warming and gets smaller every day.
Smaller than the White Wolf, the Arctic Fox lives in even colder climates and has many special features, like body fat and unique blood vessels, to keep it from freezing in the cold. They eat small animals like voles and lemmings and during the summer can be found by the water, trying to catch a seal pup or two.
The Artic hare lives in the harshest, coldest regions of Canada, Greenland and Russia. The further up North the hare lives, the whiter its fur. They eat mainly twigs and berries and because of their strong sense of smell, they can dig for food that has been buried in the snow for months.
The Arctic Tern is a remarkable bird. It breeds in the Arctic but migrates to Antarctica every year. They are usually carnivorous, eating small fish, shellfish and mollusks. Did you know that Arctic Terns have the longest migration of any species, flying 24,000 miles every year?
Considered small for a whale, the Beluga whale is the size of a dolphin. They also have a large bump on their heads, giving them a dome-like appearance. They live in large groups, or "pods," in Arctic waters and survive on fish. You may have heard about Beluga whales in the popular children's song, "Baby Beluga."
The brown bear can stand up to 10 feet tall and weigh 1,500 pounds. They have sharp claws they use for digging and can run at speeds up to 35 miles an hour. The biggest brown bear populations are in Russia and Canada. You will sometimes hear the brown bear called the Kodiak bear.
You may know Caribou by their more common name, Reindeer. They live mostly in North America, Greenland, Iceland and parts of Russia. Reindeer are "ruminants," which means they eat plants and, like cows, have more than one stomach. They were probably picked for their role in Santa's sleigh because Caribou are easy to domesticate and train.
The Emperor Penguin is the largest penguin in the world. It's one of the only animals that actually breeds in the freezing Antarctic. During the harshest winters, penguins can be seen in a large group, huddled together for warmth. Their journey between the sea and their breeding ground can be seen in movies like "March of the Penguins" and "Happy Feet."
Lemmings are part of the rodent family. Unlike most animals, lemmings do not hibernate in the winter - they hunt for small plants and food to eat in the Arctic cold. There is a bogus myth that they commit mass suicide by jumping off of cliffs. Actually, lemmings are very solitary creatures and hardly ever get together in large groups.
The Lynx is a beautiful wildcat that is mostly found in North America, Russia and parts of the Himalayan mountains. They are hunters and can walk long distances. Because of this, lynx paws are much larger and wider than the paws of any other cat. Even though it is illegal, many hunters prize lynx for their skins.
Polar bears eat fish and hunt smaller animals because they live in the sea and on land. They can grow up to 10 feet tall and weigh up to 1,300 pounds with creamy white fur, and black skin underneath. Global warming is decreasing their ice habitat so Polar bears are considered in real danger.
The most common seal in Arctic waters, the Ringed seal gets its name from dark rings on its fur. They are very hearty - some ringed seals can live up to 45 years in the wild. Native people like the Inuit Indians have used seals for food, medicine and clothing for thousands of years.
A Snowy Owl is large, with bright yellow eyes and feathers that are almost completely white. It nests in the ground, building a cave for itself and preying on small rodents. People breed them, but they need plenty of room to live. A Snowy Owl stands over two feet tall and has a wingspan of 60 inches!
The White Wolf is a close cousin of the Grey Wolf, the most common wolf on Earth. White wolves eat small animals like lemmings and Caribou and feast on an occasional moose or two. Because food is scarce in the Arctic, these wolves have to travel long distances between meals.
A member of the weasel family, the Wolverine is a short, muscular "carnivore," or meat-eater. They have a very tough and water-resistant fur that makes them thrive in colder temperatures. A lot of people say they give off a nasty odor, giving them the nickname "nasty cat." They are fierce hunters and have no natural predators.