5 Animals Who Love the Cold

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on December 14, 2017.

As temperatures drop, most creatures retreat to hunker down or hibernate.

But these winter-loving animals aren’t among them, thanks to some unique adaptations for flourishing in the cold and snow.

Here are five compelling reasons to combat climate change.

1. Musk Ox


The wooly musk ox weathers the frigid Arctic with the help of its insulating fur.

Layers of hollow hair keep the 300-pound ox warm, so much so that even ground underneath the creature becomes slightly warmer. The herd animal survives by foraging for mosses, roots and lichens.

2. Wolverine

The fierce wolverine has a unique connection to winter. As the Atlantic notes, these creatures raise their young in springtime snowpack, “sometimes no lower than 8,000 feet high in the mountain peaks.”

In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the large weasel threatened by climate change. But the next year, the agency reneged on its decision.

No matter where the government stands, the wolverine has a population of only about 300 in the lower 48 states. Their habitat still desperately needs protection.

3. North American River Otter

The cold doesn’t slow down the playful river otter. Like many of the animals on this list, they rely on layered fur to stay cozy, with a water-repellent outer layer and soft insulating hair underneath.

Otters are extremely resilient during the winter. As the Shedd Aquarium notes:

During the winter day, when temperatures are highest, river otters may travel more to find open bodies of water where they can fish. When fish aren’t readily accessible, river otters may root out hibernating frogs and turtles buried in the mud…

If they can’t find openings in the ice for fishing, river otters might tunnel into beaver dams for access to open water. In late winter, water levels sometimes drop below the ice, leaving an air space that lets them swim and hunt beneath the ice.

4. Arctic Ground Squirrel

Unlike the other creatures on this list, the Arctic ground squirrel hibernates during the winter — but in a way that embraces the cold.

As the Scientific American notes, their bodies can drop “below the freezing point of water” when they’re curled up in burrows more than a meter underneath the tundra. And winter’s effects on the squirrel’s brain is also intriguing.

“Hibernation devastates the ground squirrel brain, wilting thousands if not millions of vital connections between brain cells, known as synapses,” Ferris Jabr writes in Scientific American. “But its brain has evolved impressive resilience, repeatedly renewing itself at astonishing speeds, like a forest erupting through the scorched earth in a matter of days.”

5. Beluga Whales


Thick blubber is one of the distinctive traits that keeps a beluga whale going in freezing temperatures.

These marine mammals also have a dorsal ridge instead of a fin to avoid heat loss and injury by ice.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

368 comments

Vincent T
Vincent T9 days ago

thanks very much

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David C
David C11 days ago

thanks

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner16 days ago

Hunters should be the hunted. Instead of those lowlife idiots having "open season" on musk ox, let's pass a law to hunt down the hunters.

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Thomas M
Thomas M17 days ago

Thank you

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Leo C
Leo C21 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Marija M
Marija M22 days ago

Interesting, tks very much for posting.

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Richard B
Richard B22 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Sherri S
Sherri S23 days ago

Thank you for sharing this information.

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Muriel S
Muriel Servaege23 days ago

Why can't humans leave all those animals alone???

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Ruth S
Ruth S24 days ago

Thanks.

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