Animals in the Frigid Zone

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Although the frigid zones, also known as the Arctic and the Antarctic, have very cold climates they are home to many interesting mammals and seabirds. More mammals live in the Arctic because they’re able to migrate across the land and the summers are warmer there. The Southern Ocean, on the other hand, separates Antarctica from other landmasses making land animals are scarce. However, seabirds and marine mammals live in this region, which is the coldest on Earth.


Four penguin species live in Antarctica. Early explorers thought penguins were fish, and classified them as such. Although they’re birds, they can’t fly and spend about 75 percent of their time in the sea.

Seals and Walruses

Seals are found in both frigid zones, but more seals live in Antarctica than the Arctic because there aren’t any predators there, and the food supply is plentiful. Both male and female walruses have tusks that are a symbol of age and social status. Tusks are also used in walking, to help drag the walrus’s body over land.


Musk ox, reindeer and caribou all live in the Arctic. Arctic people herd reindeer and depend on them for food, clothing, and shelter, however, caribou have never been domesticated. Musk ox are one of the largest mammals found in the Arctic. Although they are peaceful, they are very capable of protecting their young. When threatened, they form a circle around the calves and have been known to toss and stomp attacking wolves.

Polar Bears

A polar bear is a dangerous animal, capable of killing a seal with a single blow of its paw. These mammals can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds and are strong swimmers that can stay underwater for two minutes. They are only found in the Arctic.

Foxes and Wolves

The Arctic fox follows polar bears around in the winter, hoping to eat leftovers. They also eat lemmings, squirrels, bird eggs, berries and fish. Arctic wolves follow caribou and can kill an adult caribou with one bite to the neck.

Other Animals

Other mammals that live in the Arctic include the sea otter, lemmings and several species of whale. Whales also live in Antarctica. Sea otters are one of the few animals that use tools and will tie themselves into a kelp bed at night with strands of kelp in order to sleep safely. Lemmings are mouse-like animals that are known for migrating. They will run through meadows and towns in very large groups, as they look for food. Bird species include:

  • the albatross
  • bald eagle
  • peregrine falcon
  • ptarmigan
  • puffin
  • snowy owl


About the Author

Lani Thompson began writing in 1987 as a journalist for the "Pequawket Valley News." In 1993 she became managing editor of the "Independent Observer" in East Stoneham, Maine. Thompson also developed and produced the "Clan Thompson Celiac Pocketguides" for people with celiac disease. She attended the University of New Hampshire.