Names and Definitions of Animals That Live in the Arctic

reviewed byNataliia Afonina / more about Editorial Process
Welcome to your language journey!
  • - 01

    Learn through the article!

  • - 02

    Pass a language test

  • - 03

    Check the results

  • - 04

    Subscribe to reach fluency!

girl point on notes

This article will enrich your vocabulary with an array of terms related to animals that live in the Arctic, their different types, and their habitats. Dive into the icy wilderness of the Arctic and discover the incredible diversity of life that it hosts. 
Arctic Animals Vocabulary in English : Names and Definitions.

Types of Arctic Mammals

There's a special group of mammals that have adapted to thrive in the Arctic's harsh conditions. As a language learner, knowing these terms will enhance your English vocabulary while learning about Arctic fauna.

  • Polar Bear: The largest carnivorous land mammal in the Arctic region, known for its white fur that helps with camouflage in the snow.
  • Arctic Fox: A small, nimble mammal with a thick, warm fur that changes color from white in winter to brown in summer.
  • Arctic Hare: Resembling a large rabbit, it possesses a fluffy white coat for camouflage and warmth.
  • Narwhal: A medium-sized whale famous for its long, spiral tusk projecting from its head.
  • Walrus: A large marine mammal with long, distinctive tusks, and a mustache.
  • Reindeer: Also known as caribou in North America, these animals are notable for their large, branching antlers.
  • Musk Ox: A large, shaggy herbivore, it boasts a pair of sharp, curved horns.
  • Beluga Whale: A small, white whale, known for its vocalization and melon-shaped forehead.
  • Bowhead Whale: An enormous whale, adapted to life in the Arctic, with a massive bow-shaped head.
  • Lemming: A small rodent that is famous for its population explosions.
  • Ermine: Also known as stoat, a small, agile carnivore with a white winter coat.
  • Seal: Aquatic mammals with a streamlined body and flipper-like limbs, adapted for cold waters.
  • Arctic Squirrel: This rodent is known for its bushy tail and its hibernation during the coldest months.
  • Arctic Wolf: A subspecies of gray wolf, it has a white coat that enables it to blend into its snowy surroundings.

These new terms add to your vocabulary while offering insight into the fascinating mammals that inhabit the Arctic region.

Types of Arctic Birds

Arctic birds are some of the most adapted creatures on Earth. Here are some common terms related to birds of the Arctic. These words will not only expand your vocabulary but will also give you a glimpse of the world of polar region animals.

  • Puffin: A small bird with a brightly colored beak, known for its exceptional diving abilities.
  • Snow Bunting: A small, hardy bird with a white belly and dark upper parts.
  • Arctic Tern: This bird is known for its incredible migration, traveling from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back.
  • Ivory Gull: A beautiful white gull adapted to life in the high Arctic.
  • Snowy Owl: Even though it is a bird, it is often included in the mammal category due to its size. It is known for its white plumage and round, yellow eyes.
  • Peregrine Falcon: Known for being the fastest bird in the world, it can be found in the Arctic during the summer.
  • Rock Ptarmigan: A game bird that changes its plumage from brown in summer to white in winter.
  • Raven: A large, intelligent black bird capable of surviving in harsh Arctic climates.
  • Northern Fulmar: A seabird that spends most of its life over the open ocean.
  • Guillemot: A seabird that nests in large, dense colonies on cliffs and dives underwater to catch fish.
  • Kittiwake: A small gull that breeds in large colonies on cliff edges.
  • Eider: The largest ducks in the northern hemisphere, known for their soft, down feathers.
  • Gyrfalcon: The largest of the falcon species, its plumage varies from dark to nearly white.
  • Sandpiper: These birds are known for their long-distance migrations from Arctic to Southern Hemisphere.
  • Red-throated Loon: A migratory bird with a distinctive red throat during the breeding season.

With these terms, you can now describe various Arctic birds, enriching both your English vocabulary and knowledge about Arctic wildlife.


Types of Arctic Fish and Crustaceans

Arctic waters are teeming with different species that have adapted to the frigid temperatures. These terms will help you dive deeper into English while introducing you to life beneath Arctic waters.

  • Arctic Char: A cold-water fish that resembles the trout, known for its variable coloration.
  • Greenland Shark: A large, slow-moving deep-sea shark that is one of the longest living vertebrates.
  • Capelin: A small forage fish that forms massive schools and is an important food source for many Arctic predators.
  • Atlantic Cod: A well-known commercial fish found in colder waters.
  • Polar Cod: A small, schooling fish that is a vital part of the Arctic food web.
  • Sculpin: A group of fish known for their large, spiny heads and wide mouths.
  • Flounder: A flat, bottom-dwelling fish with both eyes on the same side of its head.
  • Salmon: These fish are known for their unique life cycle, which includes both freshwater and saltwater stages.
  • Arctic Grayling: A freshwater fish known for its large, sail-like dorsal fin.
  • Ninespine Stickleback: A small fish with sharp spines on its back, inhabiting both fresh and brackish waters.
  • Sea Lamprey: A jawless fish known for its parasitic feeding habits.
  • Halibut: A large, flat fish that is popular in commercial fishing.
  • Atlantic Wolffish: Known for its strong, sharp teeth used for eating hard-shelled invertebrates.
  • Snow Crab: A large crustacean with long, spider-like legs.
  • King Crab: A large, spiny crab known for its size and tasty meat.

We hope these water species have broadened your English vocabulary and given you an insight into the Arctic's underwater life.

Types of Arctic Insects

Here are some terms related to the hardy insects that survive in the Arctic's challenging conditions. Learning these will enhance your English vocabulary and your knowledge about Arctic ecosystems.

  • Arctic Mosquito: A large, pesky insect known for its blood-sucking habits.
  • Black Fly: A small, hump-backed fly, females are known to bite and can be a nuisance.
  • Arctic Bumblebee: These bees are well adapted to cold climates and can fly in lower temperatures.
  • Arctic Woolly Bear Caterpillar: Known for its long life cycle, taking up to 14 years to become a moth.
  • Arctic Moth: These moths survive the harsh winter as caterpillars.
  • Snow Flea: These tiny creatures are not actual fleas but springtails that are active in winter.
  • Dance Fly: These flies perform complex mating dances.
  • Diamondback Moth: A pest species in many parts of the world, it also inhabits the Arctic.
  • Northern Caddisfly: Aquatic insect larvae that are an essential part of the freshwater food web.
  • Crane Fly: Often mistaken for giant mosquitoes, they are harmless and don't bite.
  • Winter Crane Fly: These insects are known to withstand extremely cold temperatures.
  • Arctic Ant: A small, hardy insect adapted to the cold conditions.
  • Arctic Springtail: Tiny, wingless creatures that 'spring' into the air to avoid predators.
  • Arctic Aphid: These insects survive by feeding on the sap of plants.
  • Arctic Beetle: A tiny creature adapted to survive the cold, it can be found under rocks or in moss.

These terms will help you recognize the smallest inhabitants of the Arctic, offering new words and broadening your understanding of polar ecosystems.

Habitats of Arctic Animals

Here are some terms related to the habitats of Arctic animals. Understanding these will deepen your English vocabulary and your understanding of the Arctic's diverse biomes.

  • Ice Caps: Large areas of ice covering land, often housing animals such as seals and polar bears.
  • Sea Ice: Frozen ocean water where many marine animals like seals, walruses, and polar bears hunt and rest.
  • Icebergs: Large chunks of freshwater ice that have broken off from glaciers or ice shelves, used by some birds for rest during long flights.
  • Arctic Ocean: The smallest and shallowest ocean, home to various marine life like whales, seals, and fish.
  • Arctic Rivers: Freshwater sources that are home to various fish species and form important corridors for migration.
  • Boreal Forests: Also known as Taiga, these forests contain a mix of pines, spruces, and larches, hosting a range of mammals and birds.
  • Alpine Tundra: This habitat occurs in mountains above the tree line and hosts specially adapted animals like snow leopards and mountain goats.
  • Arctic Wetlands: These areas are important breeding grounds for many birds and habitats for mammals like musk oxen and reindeer.
  • Coastal Plains: The coastal areas of the Arctic are home to a variety of animals, including polar bears, seals, and various birds.

By knowing these habitats, you've enriched your English vocabulary and your knowledge about the diverse environments in the Arctic.


Understanding the vocabulary related to Arctic animals gives you a more profound appreciation of life's resilience in such harsh environments. This list of Arctic animals will be helpful to you when discussing Arctic wildlife or if you're fortunate enough to explore these regions in person. Keep in mind that our knowledge about these animals in arctic regions is vital for their preservation in the face of climate change.

Make your next step to fluency with Promova

Arctic Animals Quiz
Get a review of your skills & track your progress as you improve!
10 min
10 questions
Take test
Try Promova
Learn English with a handy app full of awesome lessons!


PromovaNov 23rd, 2023
Arctic mammals have various adaptations aiding survival. The polar bear's white fur provides camouflage, while the Arctic fox's fur changes color with the seasons. Additionally, the thick coats of the Arctic hare and musk ox provide insulation against cold temperatures.
Alicia BerryNov 23rd, 2023
What are some adaptations of Arctic mammals that enable their survival in harsh conditions?