Last updated: April 27, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit © Laurascudder / CC BY-SA 3.0


Mountain ranges are found all around the world and are the result of plate movement beneath the Earth’s crust. Mountains can range in height from a small hill to 8,848 metres, which is the height of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Animals that live in mountainous regions not only have to withstand dramatic temperature changes but also lower oxygen levels. There are two main types of mountain range, which are temperate mountains and tropical mountains. Temperate mountains tend to be fairly cold all year round and are much more seasonal that the tropical mountains. In the spring and summer, there is a burst of plant life at high altitude which encourages herbivores up the mountain. Temperate mountains can be found in Europe, Central Asia and North and South America. Tropical mountains have much warmer climates and have a few plants which have specially adapted to live at high altitudes. Tropical mountain ranges can be found in Africa, south-east Asia and South America. Wildlife that inhabits mountainous regions has be able to survive successfully at high altitudes. Any creature that lives in the mountains must also be able to cope with changing temperatures. For every 200 meters an animal goes up a mountain, the temperature drops by 1 degree Centigrade. Plants are very seasonal in the mountains and those plants that do occur all year round, such as conifers, must be extremely hardy and able to deal with the cold. Many species of hoofed and herbivorous mammal such as goats, deer, sheep and llamas have adapted well to living in the mountains and are often found grazing on ledges and on cliff faces. These herbivores move up the mountain when there is vegetation further up during the spring and summer and move back down again in the autumn when it begins to get colder and food is more scarce. These herbivores obviously attract large predators to inhabit mountainous regions, such as bears, cougars and mountain lions. There are also a number of animal species that are not found on the mountains but inside them. Many smaller animal species have adapted to living their lives in the safety of caves and crevices. Caves are popular homes for amphibians such as toads and salamanders, numerous species of insect, and mammals such as bats. Although the mountains themselves are standing strong, there are numerous threats to the wildlife that inhabits mountain habitats. Deforestation, quarrying and the development of ski-resorts are the most damaging advances to mountain wildlife, along with global warming and climate change which affects the growth of plants at higher altitudes.