Top 10 Animals That Live in the Tundra, Plus Handy A-Z List


The tundra is one of the coldest biomes in the world, and there are many varieties of animals that live in the Tundra regions, including mammals, insects, fish, and birds that call Tundra their home.

Here’s a quick rundown of the list, then we’ll get into more details. Including a final A-Z list of animals that live in the Tundra of one type or another.

Animals found in the tundra include the Arctic hare, arctic fox, musk ox, yak, pika, antarctic penguin, polar bear, the snowy owl, the Himalayan tahr, and the caribou. Many tundra animals migrate to warmer climates during the winter. There are also three types of Tundra.

The tundra is a biome where low temperatures and shorter days, mean shorter growing seasons, resulting in sparse vegetation coverage across the landscape.

The Tundra is indeed one of the harshest and coldest biomes in the world. On average temperature in the tundra can reach as low as -25F.

Read on, or watch the video below from the Ranger Planet Youtube Channel.

The earth contains three types of tundra

There are three types of tundra that can be found on our planet, each containing its own unique set of flora and fauna.

  • Arctic Tundra – located north of the taiga belt towards the far Northern Hemisphere
  • Alpine tundra – located above tree lines line in mountains worldwide
  • Antarctic tundra – encompassing parts of Antarctica, and engulfing some sub-Antarctic islands
map of the arctic tundra
map of the arctic tundra

So here’s the top 10 list of common animals that live in the Tundra and all you need to know about each.

Then will list down all other animals that inhabit the Tundra from A-Z.

Top 10 animals that live in the Tundra

Of course, you cannot start this list without putting the popular polar bear at the start. 

1. Polar Bear 

polar bear in the arctic tundra
polar bear in the arctic tundra

If there’s an iconic species of animal that inhabits the tundra it has to be the polar bear (Ursus maritimus).

Polar bears inhabit the Arctic tundra, commonly referred to as the Arctic circle. This also includes the Arctic ocean and its surrounding areas.

It’s commonly known that polar bears are exceptionally adapted to survive in the cold climate, which makes them an ideal animal to live in the Tundra.

When it comes to their diet, seals form a major portion. Polar bears are great swimmers and they can swim for long distances foraging for food or rest. 

2. Antarctic Penguins

penguin in antarctic tundra
penguin in antarctic tundra

Another common species of animal that live in the Tundra is undoubtedly the penguin.

Most penguins are located around the land and waters of coastal Antarctica. The most common penguins that live in and around the Antarctic tundra are:

Rockhopper penguins, Adelie penguins, king penguins, macaroni penguins, emperor penguins, gentoo penguins, and chinstrap penguins.

3. The Himalayan Tahr

Himalayan Tahr in alpine tundra
Himalayan Tahr in alpine tundra

The Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) a Himalayan native species, can be sighted in India, Nepal, and Tibet and dwells in the alpine tundra.

This animal is a strict herbivore, and a browser, and feeds on leaves, fruits, grasses, and other plant-based food.

Unfortunately, human hunting and habitat loss has contributed significantly to the decline of Himalayan Tahr. So much so, that they are now classified as near threatened animals on the IUCN Red List.

4. Snowy Owl 

snowy owl, female and male
snowy owl, female and male

As its name says, the snowy owl is white and is an owl species native to the tundra ecoregions of Eurasia and North America.

When you compare the males and females of snowy owls, it’s the males that live truly up to their name …with completely white skin and feathers.

The females on the other hand have a greater concentration of black flecks in the skin which is more apparent than that of males.

5. Musk Ox

musk ox in norway
musk ox in Norway

This animal is also a renowned arctic tundra animal.

Musk ox, are large mammals known for their strong odor, which is emitted by males during the seasonal rut.

The signature odor of these animals is what helps them attract females during their mating season.

Musk Ox can be located mostly in the Canadian Arctic tundra region, as well as Greenland, Siberia, Sweden, and Norway. Alaska has also introduced small populations of Musk Ox.

Their skin has a thick hide that helps protect them from the cold harsh weather of the Tundra. 

6. Arctic Fox

arctic fox against snow background
arctic fox against the snow background

The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), given its name, is obviously one of the most common animals that live in the Tundra, the arctic tundra.

They have unique thick fur for a fox, that typically turns from brown to white in winter alongside a round-shaped body, thickly padded paws, and short ears, that help them save critical body heat in the tundra conditions.

Find out what the arctic fox eats here. And how the arctic fox hibernates.

7. Yak

a yak in alpine tundra
a yak in alpine tundra

The yak (Bos grunniens) is primarily found in the mountainous Alpine arctic regions of Southern Central Asia.

They’re also located across the Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, and Russia. Yak also remains active throughout the cold winter season, roaming in search of food.

Yak are bovine cattle that live in the Tundra, across the alpine tundra in Asia. For thousands of years, Yaks have been a native inhabitants’ source of meat, milk, and fiber throughout the year.

8. Pika

pika in alpine tundra
pika in alpine tundra

A small animal with a round body shape, short limbs, rounded ears, and no external tail is the best way to describe a Pika.

They are tundra animals that live in the mountainous areas of Asia, North America. They live in these areas which are at heights of 6,000 meters.

9. Lemmings 

lemming in alpine tundra
lemming in alpine tundra

Also known as tundra mice, Lemmings are one of the smallest tundra animals that live in the tundra and are subnivean as well.

Subnivean animals are those that live underneath the snowpack and move from one place to another by digging tunnels beneath the snow-covered land of their habitats. 

For the most part, lemmings are solitary creatures. They remain active throughout the cold winter season instead of hibernating like many other animals.

In the tundra, lemmings eat tender and fresh shoots of grasses and sedges. During the harsh winter they will search for and eat frozen, yet still green grasses and plant material.

10. Arctic Hare

arctic hare
arctic hare

Finally up on our top 10 list of animals that live in the tundra regions is the Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus).

The Arctic hare is well-adapted to both the Alpine, and polar habitats. Their short ears, thick fur, and small nose help them conserve essential body heat.

They live in burrows dug up to a few feet beneath the ground, and their body fat makes up 20% of their overall weight. 

But that’s just our top 10 most popular animals that live in the Tundra regions. There’s a whole A-Z list we’ve included below.

Here’s our exclusive list of all the other animals that live in the Tundra or that do frequent or pass through one or more of the three tundra regions from A-Z.

Animals that live in the Tundra regions – A-Z List

A

  • Adelie penguin
  • Alpine musk deer
  • American badger
  • American pika
  • Antarctic giant petrel
  • Antarctic krill
  • Antarctic petrel
  • Antarctic prion
  • Antarctic shag
  • Antarctic tern
  • Antipodean albatross
  • Arctic bumblebee
  • Arctic fulmar
  • Arctic ground squirrel
  • Arctic lamprey
  • Arctic loon
  • Arctic tern
  • Arctic wolf

B

  • Bald eagle
  • Beluga whale
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Black-bellied storm petrel
  • Black-browed albatross
  • Blue petrel
  • Blue whale
  • Blue-eyed shag
  • Bobcat
  • Brown skua
  • Bushy-tailed wood rat (Packrat)

C

  • Canada lynx
  • Cape petrel
  • Caribou
  • Chinstrap penguin
  • Clark’s nutcracker
  • Common diving petrel
  • Common raven
  • Coyote
  • Crabeater seal

D

  • Dall sheep

E

  • Elephant seal
  • Elk
  • Emperor penguin

F

  • Fairy prion
  • Fin whale

G

  • Gentoo penguin
  • Golden-mantled ground squirrel
  • Great-winged petrel
  • Greenland shark
  • Grey-backed storm petrel
  • Grey-headed albatross
  • Grizzly bear

H

  • Hall’s giant petrel
  • Hall’s giant petrel
  • Harbor seal
  • Harlequin duck
  • Harp seal
  • Himalayan musk deer
  • Hoary marmot
  • Horned lark
  • Horned puffin
  • Humpback whale

I

  • Imperial shag

K

  • Kelp gull
  • Kerguelen petrel
  • King penguin

L

  • Leopard seal
  • Light-mantled albatross

M

  • Macaroni penguin
  • Minke whale
  • Moose
  • Mountain goat
  • Mule deer
  • Narwhal

N

  • North American porcupine
  • Northern royal albatross

O

  • Orca

P

  • Patagonian toothfish
  • Peregrine falcon
  • Prairie falcon

R

  • Red fox
  • Ringed seal
  • Rock ptarmigan
  • Ross seal
  • Ross’s gull
  • Rosy finch
  • Ruddy turnstone

S

  • Salvin’s albatross
  • Salvin’s prion
  • Sea leopard
  • Sea otter
  • Sei whale
  • Shy albatross
  • Slender-billed prion
  • Snow bunting
  • Snow goose
  • Snow leopard
  • Snow petrel
  • Snow quail
  • Snowshoe hare
  • Snowy sheathbill
  • Sooty albatross
  • Sooty shearwater
  • South Georgia diving petrel
  • South polar skua
  • Southern bottlenose whale
  • Southern fulmar
  • Southern rockhopper penguin
  • Southern royal albatross
  • Spectacled porpoise
  • Stoat

T

  • Tundra Shrew
  • Tundra swan
  • Tundra vole

W

  • Walrus
  • Wandering albatross
  • Water pipit
  • Weddell seal
  • White-chinned petrel
  • White-crowned sparrow
  • White-headed petrel
  • White-tailed ptarmigan
  • Wild yak
  • Wilson’s storm petrel
  • Wolverine

Y

  • Yellow-bellied marmot
  • Yellow-billed pintail
  • Yellow-eyed penguin

Animals that live in the Tundra – Video and Sharing

So that’s the whole list of animals that live in the tundra regions. After you watch the video below to get a quick top 10 rundown of animals that live in the tundra, and then feel free to share the Pinterest Pin below.

animals that live in the tundra pin
animals that live in tundra pin

Michael

A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

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