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Wildlife in winter - Adaptations for Survival
If an animal or plant is to survive it must be able to fit in the environmental conditions which
occur in its habitat. This is called adaptation. Every living thing is adapted to cope with a
particular habitat's environmental factors such as the air, water, soil, light and temperature.
For example, cacti plants are adapted specially to be able to survive the dry conditions of a
desert, where e.g. seaweeds are designed specially to live in salty water.
Many plants and animals live in climates, where the temperature never drop too low (as in
Britain), so they don't have to worry about surviving extreme cold. Some animals avoid the cold
of winter by migrating to warmer climates. Those animals and plants that live in cold areas
(such as polar regions), however, need special adaptations which allow them to survive in their
harsh environment. We will now look as some of the ways in which wildlife survives in the polar
SURVIVAL AT THE POLES ;-)
Polar bears and penguins never bump into each other! This is because, polar bears live only in
the Artic (the North Pole) and many species of penguins are only in the Antarctic (the South
Pole). Both animals are highly adapted for living in the coldest places in the world.
<------Arctic Land Mammals
It is vital for a mammal, being a `warm-blooded', vertebrate, to keep warm in order to maintain
its body at a constant temperature. If it cannot do this it will die. The Arctic is the coldest place
in which they are lived by land animals and these have very thick fur, which insulates the body
by trapping air. They also have a layer of stored fat under the skin which gives additional
Like many Arctic mammals, the polar bear has white fur made of hollow hairs, which traps and
warms air. Did you know Ultra-violet light is funnelled from the sun down the hairs to the
bear's black skin "Big will skin" , changing it into warmth. The dense undercoat is covered with
an outer coat of long guard hairs. These help to keep the polar bear dry and warm while it is
The body shape and size of many cold climate mammals differ quite a lot from similar species
living in warmer areas. Generally an animal becomes rounder and bulkier when its environment
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Also its legs, ears and tail are shorter. These adaptations help to conserve heat.
Basically, a football-shaped animal would be warmest of all.
The Arctic fox, although, does differ in shape from our red fox in Britaine. E.g. It has a rounder,
plumper body, shorter legs and tail, as well as a shorter muzzle and ears than the red fox. The
thick fur turns white in the winter and the soles of the feet are covered in fur.…read more