Living In The Freezer

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: March 7, 2021
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The polar regions are the coldest places on Earth and differ the most from every other habitat on the planet. During the summer months, the days receive 24 hours of pure sunshine but during the winter, the sun is barely seen at all. Animals that inhabit nature’s freezers have to be well adapted to living in the cold, and often have a thick layer of fat or blubber to help to keep them warm.

Numerous species of animal can be found inhabiting these hostile conditions successfully and from various groups within the animal kingdom. Many however, are being severely threatened by habitat loss to both growing Human settlements and the decreasing amount of flat ice thanks to global warming, with the spring melt happening earlier and faster year after year.

An Arctic hare sitting on a mound of white snow with a tree branch poking out.
Arctic hares thrive in treeless tundras found in the northern portions of the North American continent and are not deterred by the bitter cold found in these places for much of the year.


An Arctic fox standing in a field of red, orange, and green low-lying plants.
Thick ears, short muzzles, and multilayer pelage help Arctic foxes survive freezing environments.

Menno Schaefer/

A brownish white Arctic wolf standing on a rock and howling with trees in the background.
The Arctic wolf‘s coat consists of two layers. The upper layer gets thicker as the temperature drops, and the layer closest to the wolf’s skin is waterproof which helps them stay dry and maintain their body heat in subzero temperatures.


An emperor penguin walking through a snowy and icy landscape.
The Emperor Penguin is found on and around the Antarctic continent and is the largest species of penguin in the world.


A killer whale leaping out of a body of water.
Killer whales, or orcas, live in oceans all over the world but are especially plentiful in the cold waters in the Arctic, Antarctic and around Norway.


A lemming standing in a small patch of melted snow.
One of the smallest rodents, lemmings are known to live in or around the Arctic circle.

Nick Pecker/

A polar bear walking across a snowy landscape.
Around 60% of polar bears can be found in northern Canada with the remaining individuals distributed throughout Greenland, Alaska, Svalbard and Russia. 


A group of reindeer standing in a snowy landscape. The reindeer in the foreground has large, curved antlers.
A reindeer uses its nose to warm the air it breathes before it enters the lungs.

Dmitry Chulov/

A snowy owl mid-flight in a snowy landscape with trees in the background.
Snowy owls have feet that are covered with dense, fluffy feathers to insulate them against the arctic snows.


A walrus sitting on an ice sheet floating in a body of water. A snowy shore is in the background.
In winter months when the ice is at its thickest, walruses tend to prefer areas of thinner ice that they can easily break through to the surface from the water underneath.

Inge Jansen/

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