Vocabulary Related to Tundra Animals

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This article aims to introduce you to vocabulary that describes tundra animals and their habitats.  
Tundra Animal Vocabulary in English : Explore Arctic Wildlife.

Types of Tundra Mammals

Here is a list of common mammal animals that inhabit the tundra.

  • Polar Bear: An enormous white bear known for its impressive swimming abilities and a diet primarily of seals.
  • Arctic Fox: A small, white, furry mammal with an exceptional ability to survive in cold temperatures.
  • Caribou: A large, migratory deer species with impressive antlers, also known as a reindeer in some regions.
  • Musk Ox: A large herbivore covered in thick hair, famed for their defensive circle formation to protect young.
  • Snowy Owl: Although it's a bird, the snowy owl is notable as a major predator in tundra regions, with a distinct white plumage.
  • Lemming: Small rodents that are known for their population booms and crashes, a crucial food source for many tundra predators.
  • Wolverine: A ferocious carnivore that resembles a small bear but is actually part of the weasel family.
  • Arctic Hare: Large white hares that have adapted to Arctic conditions with a thick coat and compact body shape.
  • Ermine: A small carnivorous mammal, which changes its fur from brown in summer to white in winter.
  • Narwhal: A toothed whale with a distinct long, spiral tusk extending from its upper jaw, often found in Arctic waters.
  • Walrus: A large marine mammal with long, outward facing tusks and a body covered in brown or pink skin.
  • Arctic Ground Squirrel: The largest and most northerly of the North American ground squirrels.
  • Arctic Shrew: The smallest of the Arctic mammals, they eat insects and have a venomous bite.
  • Collared Lemming: The only species of lemming to grow a winter white coat.
  • Snowy Weasel: A small predator with a brown summer coat that turns white in winter.

These mammals display fascinating tundra animal adaptations to survive in the harsh tundra environment.

Types of Tundra Birds

Birds play a vital role as animals in the tundra. Here is a list of the most common tundra birds:

  • Snowy Owl: A large, white owl native to Arctic regions known for its daytime hunting habits.
  • Peregrine Falcon: A bird of prey that migrates to the tundra for breeding, known for its incredible speed.
  • Rock Ptarmigan: A small grouse that changes its feathers from brown in the summer to white in the winter.
  • Snow Bunting: A small bird known for its black and white plumage and its ability to survive in harsh cold.
  • Lapland Longspur: A small bird with distinctive facial markings that nests on the ground in tundra regions.
  • Red Phalarope: A bird that prefers swimming and has a reversed sex role, where females are more brightly colored.
  • Arctic Tern: This bird holds the record for the longest known annual migration, traveling from its Arctic breeding grounds to the Antarctic and back.
  • Common Eider: A large sea duck that breeds along Arctic coasts.
  • Long-tailed Duck: A medium-sized sea duck, with elongated central feathers in the tail.
  • Arctic Skua: A predatory bird known for stealing food from other birds.
  • Ivory Gull: A pure white gull that spends its life in the High Arctic.
  • Northern Wheatear: This small insectivorous bird migrates from the Arctic to Africa, one of the longest migrations of any bird.
  • Snow Goose: A large white goose that breeds in tundra habitats.
  • Rough-legged Hawk: A large bird of prey that breeds in the Arctic tundra and migrates south in winter.
  • Yellow-billed Loon: The largest of the loon species, which breeds in the High Arctic tundra.

All these birds show how life can thrive in the harsh tundra environment, each with unique adaptations and roles in the ecosystem.


Types of Tundra Fish

Here are some types of fish that live in the frigid waters associated with tundra regions:

  • Arctic Char: A cold-water fish that is similar to both salmon and lake trout, and can change its color.
  • Arctic Cod: A small, cold water fish that is a crucial part of the Arctic food chain.
  • Greenland Shark: A large, slow-moving deep-sea fish, known to be one of the longest living vertebrates.
  • Arctic Grayling: A freshwater fish with a large dorsal fin, known for its fighting spirit when caught by anglers.
  • Atlantic Salmon: A fish species that migrates up rivers in the Arctic to spawn.
  • Fourhorn Sculpin: A bottom-dwelling fish with a large, armored head and four horns.
  • Alaskan Blackfish: A small fish species that can survive in extremely cold temperatures and even in ice-covered waters.
  • Ninespine Stickleback: A small freshwater fish with a row of spines along its back.
  • Pink Salmon: A species of salmon that is smallest and most abundant, named for the color it turns during spawning.
  • Northern Pike: A predatory freshwater fish that is known for its aggressive behavior.
  • Atlantic Cod: A popular commercial fish, found in colder ocean waters.
  • Burbot: The only freshwater species of cod, known for its ability to survive in extremely cold temperatures.
  • Chinook Salmon: The largest species of Pacific salmon, also known as king salmon.
  • Blue Herring: A migratory schooling fish found in the cold waters of the Arctic.
  • Lake Chub: A small fish found in a variety of habitats, including the cold waters of the tundra.

From the small Arctic Cod to the mighty Greenland Shark, these fish are as integral to the tundra ecosystem as their land-based counterparts.

Types of Tundra Insects

While insects might not be the first creatures that come to mind when thinking of the tundra, they represent an important part of this ecosystem. Discover some insects that withstand the cold and make the tundra their home:

  • Arctic Bumblebee: A species of bumblebee adapted to the cold, with a dense coat of hair and a low wingbeat frequency.
  • Snow Flea: Small, dark-blue insects that have a unique protein that acts like anti-freeze.
  • Arctic Woolly Bear Moth: An insect that spends most of its life in a frozen state and can take up to 14 years to reach adulthood.
  • Black Fly: A small flying insect that is found in almost all continents, including the tundra, and is known for its biting habits.
  • Arctic Mosquito: A mosquito species that has adapted to the cold climate and has a short, intense breeding season.
  • Winter Crane Fly: An insect that is known to survive in extremely cold temperatures and is often found in snowy areas.
  • Arctic Midge: This insect is known for its ability to withstand extremely low temperatures.
  • Arctic Butterfly: There are several butterfly species that can survive in the tundra, thanks to their dark color that helps absorb sunlight.
  • Arctic Ladybird: This insect is adapted to cold climates, with a shorter lifecycle to match the short Arctic summer.
  • Tundra Dragonfly: Dragonflies that breed in the short summer season of the tundra, often near ponds and lakes.
  • Northern Collembola: Tiny, wingless insects that are capable of jumping when threatened and can withstand freezing temperatures.
  • Arctic Ant: Ant species that survive the harsh cold by living in warm nests under the permafrost.
  • Arctic Tick: Parasitic insects that can survive the cold temperatures and are usually found on migrating birds.
  • Tundra Bee Fly: A fly species that can be found in tundra habitats, known for its distinctive long proboscis.
  • Tundra Leaf Beetle: Small beetles that survive by feeding on willow leaves, one of the few plants that thrive in the tundra.

Despite their small size, these insects play a massive role in the tundra's ecosystem, pollinating plants and being a food source for larger animals.

Habitats of Tundra Animals

Explore some different habitats within the tundra biome where these animals have adapted to live:

  • Permafrost: A layer of soil, rock, or sediment that is frozen all year round, providing a unique environment for animals.
  • Ice Floes: Large floating sheets of ice, which can serve as a platform for seals, polar bears, and other marine mammals.
  • Tundra Ponds: Small bodies of water formed by melted permafrost, serving as a habitat for fish, birds, and insects.
  • Mountain Peaks: Higher altitude areas in the alpine tundra where animals like snow leopards and mountain goats can be found.
  • Scrubland: Areas with dwarf shrubs and grasses that provide food for grazing animals.
  • Snow Banks: Accumulated snow that provides shelter for small mammals and insects from the cold.
  • Boreal Forest: Also known as taiga, a cold forest belt that borders the tundra, home to many animals such as moose and lynxes.
  • Polar Deserts: Extremely cold, dry areas with little precipitation where only the hardiest animals can survive.
  • Glacial Moraines: Areas of debris left by moving glaciers, often serve as nesting grounds for birds.
  • Coastal Areas: Regions where the sea meets the land, often populated by seals, walruses, and a variety of birds.

These varied habitats demonstrate the breadth of environments within the tundra and the incredible range of species that they support.


The tundra is an intriguing biome that hosts a myriad of unique animals. The next time you explore the world of arctic, antarctic or alpine tundra animals, you can impress others with your rich vocabulary on this subject. 

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itsiDec 6th, 2023
PromovaNov 23rd, 2023
Threats to tundra animals include climate change affecting resource availability and habitat, as well as pressures from hunting or habitat destruction due to human activities.
Kaylee Nov 23rd, 2023
Wow! What threats do tundra animals face?