5 Arctic Animals that Turn White for Winter

Imagine for a moment if you were a Siberian Tiger or a European Hare, stuck in the snow. Your natural colors, which are perfect for your actual (or summer) habitat would start working against you. Sticking out like a sore thumb, in the first case you wouldn’t be able to sneak up on your prey and pounce, and in the latter case you would be a prime target for your predator. Luckily for many Arctic animals, this need for camouflage is met by an uncanny ability to change their color to white almost overnight. Here’s a look at 5 animals that possess this amazing ability.

The Arctic Fox

(sources: floridapfe, mala-zaba)

Starting in September, the Arctic Fox sheds its brown coat, opting instead for a white one to help it through the inter. As summer begins to approach again, the white coat is once again replaced with a brown one, allowing it to hide better in the earthy tones of its habitat. The Arctic Fox lives farther north than any other fox and hunts lemmings underneath the snow even though it can’t see them.

The Arctic Hare

(sources: elferra, ajna6)

Just as with the Arctic Fox, the transformation in the Arctic Hare is an absolute one. Though they are brown with flecks of black during the summer, they turn a beautiful and pure white during the winter months. This not only helps them keep warm but provides much needed camouflage in the snow when they come out of their nests or burrows.

The Ptarmigan

(source: laurinhamuse, jonina_oskarsdottir)

The Ptarmigan, or Rock Ptarmigan as it is known in North America, is a popular game bird that molts from brown to white with the exception of the tail which retains its original color of brown or black. These birds prefer higher elevations and barren regions, and are often found perched in rocks or sitting in the snow (hiding) than in trees where they could be spotted easily in the winter.

The Barren-Ground Caribou

(source: wikipedia)

In general, the coat of the Caribou alternates between brown and white, but it is never wholly one or the other. In the summer time it is predominantly brown but the neck region retains a dirty white color, while in the winter, the white spreads and becomes clearer though the brown never completely goes away. This difference in the degrees of color change varies depending on the regional habitats of the Caribou.

The Ermine

(source: krattray, mcgregormountainlodge)

The Ermine, also known as the short-tailed weasel, is the smallest member of the weasel family. Initially introduced as an unsuccessful attempt to control the rabbit population in New Zealand, the Ermine are a nocturnal animal (though they sometimes come out during the day) now found all over the Arctic regions of Asia, Europe, and North America.

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