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Arctic Animals Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Diehl

Elizabeth studied to be a special education teacher at Regis University, and received her masters in 2014.

Arctic animals have developed some interesting ways to survive life in the Arctic. In this lesson, you will learn about some of the adaptations arctic animals use to stay warm.

Weather in the Arctic

Imagine you live in a place that is icy, snowy and windy. Everywhere you look, there is snow and rocks, no trees or bushes. The winters are very cold, and it is mostly dark all day long because the sun never rises. During the summer, the sun never sets, so it is bright all day and night. If you were an Arctic animal, this would be home! The Arctic is a term that describes the northernmost place on earth. Unlike Antarctica, the Arctic is not a continent. The Arctic Ocean freezes in the winter, making a thick sheet of ice. Animals in the Arctic can live on the islands and continents that touch the Arctic Circle, as well as in the ocean, either on the ice or under it.

Adaptations in Arctic animals

Animals that live here have to be ready to handle cold, snow and ice. All Arctic animals have found ways to keep themselves warm. When animals find special ways to handle their environments, scientists describe it as an adaptation. There are many different kinds of birds and mammals that live in the Arctic Circle. Polar bears, arctic hares, seals and whales are some examples of mammals that live in the Arctic. Snowy owls, and puffins are two kinds of birds that live in the Arctic. There are no reptiles in the Arctic, since reptiles need the environment to be warm to live. Arctic animals use thick fur or feathers, blubber, or make burrows as adaptations to help keep themselves warm.

Fur and feathers

Both polar bears and snowy owls have features that protect them when they are out hunting in the Arctic. The polar bear is probably the first animal most people think of when they think of Arctic animals. Polar bears are famous for their thick white coats of fur, but their skin helps keep them warm too. Polar bears have black skin, which help keep them warm when the sun is out. Likewise, snowy owls are covered in thick, fluffy white feathers. The feathers help trap warm air close to their skin. They even have feathers on their legs! Their feathers keep snowy owls warm.

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