Grizzly bears and brown bears are largely identical. They only differentiate by location. When found on the inland they are called grizzly bears and feed on caribou, berries, and small mammals. On the coastal land they are called brown bears and their main food is salmon.
Males can reach 900 pounds whereas females may only attain roughly 700 pounds. The coastal brown bear can reach up to nine feet of height. The inland grizzly bear doesn’t reach a great height because they don’t have a readily available protein like the brown bear’s salmon.
Caribou are built to be able to travel across most any terrain. They travel in herds across lakes and snow packed tundra.
Caribou are very unique because both males and females have antlers. In the winter, the males lose their antlers and in the fall the females lose theirs.
During the winter months their fur is lighter to help them camouflage themselves from wolves. In the summer months their fur is darker for the same reason.
Because the ermine has a shorter tail than other weasels it is often referred to as a short-tailed weasel. Ermines can be found in tundra areas in North America and Eurasia except for the Bearing Sea and Aleutian Islands. In these areas the ermines like to live in dens near marshes and swamps. In the summer the fur of an ermine changes from brown to white. Ermines are nocturnal animals. They feed on rabbits and rodents.
Adult arctic foxes look like puppies because when they are fully grown they only weigh 7-10 pounds.
Arctic foxes have fur that changes color in the winter to white so that they can blend in with the snow. The more southern foxes have coats that are darker because the amount of snow decreases.
Arctic foxes eat seals that are polar bears leave. When the foxes eat they will take turns watching for polar bears while the other one eats.
Red foxes live in many areas of Alaska including the tundra regions where arctic foxes live except the Southeastern areas and Prince Williams Sound. In these areas where there are both arctic foxes and red foxes the red foxes are dominate and reduce the arctic fox population, either by killing them or forcing them to move to a different location.
The wood frog and the spotted frog are the only frogs found in the arctic. The spotted frog makes its home in the water and will rarely be seen far from the water. The wood frog on the other hand can be found in wooded areas in a variety of different habitats.
Snowshoe hares, also known as varying hares, are the most common hares in the arctic. The fur of both snowshoe and tundra hares turn white in the winter.
Hares are often called rabbits and vice versa, and they are in the same species, but hares are born fully furred and with their eyes open whereas rabbits are not.
Lemmings are rodents that look like miniature Guinea Pigs. They live in open tundra areas and feed on roots and grass in summer months and in the winter they feed on bark and twigs. They have also been known to become cannibalistic in times of stress.
Lynxes live throughout Canada and Alaska. They feed on a range of animals from reindeer to hares. If for some reason the population of hares decreases the population of lynxes slightly decreases as well because the smaller lynxes need to feed on the hares because they are smaller and easier to hunt than the larger reindeer.
Lynxes have large paws which enable them to walk across the snow without sinking. The lynxes also have large tuffs on their ears which enhance their hearing.
Marmots live in low coastal areas around Alaska. They are closely related to squirrels and can weigh up to 10 pounds.
All marmots mate between April and May and the offspring are born hairless and blind. After just 2 months they are ready to leave their mother and can mate by the age of 2-3. The average lifespan for a marmot is 5 years.
Musk oxen are prominent throughout Alaska. They feed on grass and other plants.
Although they're big like cows musk oxen are actually related to goats. The fur of a musk ox is ten times warmer than that of a sheep and when snow falls on the back of a musk ox it doesn't even melt because it's so insulated.
Both males and females have horns but the horns of males are larger. The size of their horns almost covers their whole head.
At first glance a muskrat can very easily be mistaken for a beaver because it is furry and has a large tail but is not flat like a beaver. Muskrats mostly feed on roots and other grasses but may also eat mussels, shrimp, or small fish.
During the winter many muskrats die from lack of food because they are forced to move to larger pounds where vegetation is scarcer.
Polar bears are the largest land animals in the arctic.
They wait by holes in the ice called aglos for seals to come out. When the polar bear sees seal come out it'll hit it on the head and eat the blubber. After it is done eating it will leave the rest of the seal behind and arctic foxes will come and eat what is left. While it's hiding it will lie on the ground and use its paws to cover his black nose.
Female polar bears dig dens for they have babies. These dens are only big enough for the mother bear and one or two cubs.
Reindeer are domesticated Caribou!
In a pack of wolves, arctic wolves are smaller than gray wolves. Gray wolves are the leaders of wolf packs and are the first to eat. They eat caribou, lemmings, and arctic foxes.
When hunting caribou the smaller arctic wolves will work together and while one is distracting the caribou another one will try to break its leg. Usual the caribou will get away unless it is sick or old.
Wolverines have dark brown fur and their guard hairs are actually frost resistant. This is why it is so popular for making the trim of parkas and hoods.
They tend to stay in the more wild and remote parts of Alaska. They have very good endurance and can travel up to 40 miles in one day in search of food.
The average lifespan of a wolverine is 5-6 years although some have been reported to have living 12-13 years.
Arctic terns have a long tail much like a swallow. They feed on fish and can be dramatically affected if there is a depletion. Arctic terns may live to be up to 20+ years old.
The Arctic tern has the longest migratory pattern of all birds. It flies from the north to Antarctica and back every year. A route that is as long as 22,000 miles round trip.
The Canada goose is the most common goose in Canada and North America. There are 6 subspecies of geese, each averaging around 4-10 pounds.
Ravens are omnivores that mainly feed on insects as well as berries and other grains.
Auks are much like in penguins in the size and color. They are different from penguins in that they can fly.
The Golden Eagle is named for its golden feathers. Their eyesight is eight times better than that of an average human, thus making them great hunters. The Golden Eagle can carry up to 7 pounds while flying but the average weight of its prey, such as squirrels, hares, and ptarmigans, is 2 pounds.
The most common type of gull is the glaucous-winged gull (not to be confused with glaucous gulls). When they are born they have grey bodies but every year they get whiter and whiter until they are 4 years old. These gulls like to live near coastal areas.
The glaucous gull is slightly larger than the glaucous-winged gull but has mostly similar attributes. It turns full white after only 2 years.
The herring gull has a white body but a black back. Young herring gulls are hard to differentiate from glaucous-winged gulls because they look almost identical.
The Lapland Bunting is a migratory bird that feeds, mainly, on seeds.
There are 4 different types of ptarmigans. There are willow ptarmigans, rock ptarmigans, and white-tailed ptarmigans. The willow ptarmigan is the only ptarmigan that lives mainly in the arctic.
They weight about a pound when fully grown. During the winter their whole bodies become white to blend in with the snow. In the spring the males become very territorial and fight off other ptarmigan with aerial chases and with screaming noises.
The most noticeable feature of a puffin is its bill. During the breeding season its bill turns to bright colors. Because of their bill and other comical features the puffin has become the subject of many souvenirs.
Puffins have very short wings and can only fly by flapping their wings up to 400 times per minute. Although they can fly they are designed for swimming and when they swim they use their wings to propel them through the water.
Snowy owls are one of the only birds that live in the arctic year round. The only time they leave is if the food supply gets to scarce. If they do leave they go the Greenland, Canadian islands, or other places in Eurasia.
When owls have babies they are called owlets. After the owlets are born the mother will stay in the nest and the father will get the food and bring it back to the nest.
Not much is known about the arctic char. Scientist speculate that after the arctic char matures after 4-6 years it breeds every other year. It is known that in one pond there are usually two types of arctic char, the normal type and the dwarf type. The differences between the two are food selection and habitat, these result in different growth rates and overall size.
The arctic grayling is one of the most beautiful fish in Alaska. It has a dorsal fin that is covered in colored spots and stripes. The arctic grayling is a direct descendent of the trout.
Arctic graylings have migratory patterns that are unique to each individual fish. Some will travel through many streams to spawn and feed, while others may never leave the habitat of a small lake or stream.
The northern pike has a long flat had much like that of a duck bill and a very long body. Both males and females have similar appearances but females live longer and grow larger. The average weight of a northern pike is 20-30 pounds.
Northern pike feed mostly on other, smaller, fish although shore birds, small ducks, muskrats, mice, and shrews have also been known to have been eaten.
There are 5 different types of salmon: the Chinook salmon, the Chum salmon, the Coho salmon, the Pink salmon, and the Sockeye salmon.
The Chinook salmon is the largest of the 5 types of salmon; the largest recorded salmon weighed 126 pounds.
The Sculpin is a deep water fish found prominently in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the Atlantic. It grows to about 8 inches long and is a pale color with light stripes.
Whitefish look much like Salmon except that whitefish have smaller heads and only grow to weight about 10 pounds. They are only found in arctic and sub-arctic regions.
Narwhals travel and live in pods of 10-100 whales. They swim belly up and breath very slowly as they roll on the water to their destination. If they are spooked or scared they will swim away very fast.
The main food in a narwhal's diet is squid. Scientists found this out by examining the stomachs of dead narwhals.
The Greenland shark is the northern most shark and is found in areas around Baffin Bay but have been seen in the Gulf of Maine and even as far down as the Gulf of Mexico. The meat of a Greenland shark is poisonous unless boiled multiple times and dried.
Greenland sharks are on average 8-14 feet long and weigh up to 1000lbs. The largest one ever caught was 21 feet long.
They are deep sea sharks which why they are also called ground sharks. At that depth they feed on fish like halibut and salmon as well as others.
Walruses, as well as seals are pinnipeds. This means that they have fins as well as feet.
Even thought the arctic is cold, walruses can survive just fine because they have a thick layer of blubber which helps them keep warm in such extreme temperatures.
There are many types of seals in the arctic region: the bearded seal, the harbor seals, the northern fur seal, the ribbon seal, the ringed seal, and the spotted seal. Seals have been known to swim at speeds of up to 600 yards a minute. They have also been noted to have swum for 3 miles straight under 650 feet of ice.
Jensen Arctic Museum 503-838-8468 | or e-mail: email@example.com
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