Harsh and extreme temperatures are a human’s greatest enemy. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a tropical heatwave that makes you want to tear off your own skin, or glacial winds and blizzards that trap you inside your house for days to come (as long as there’s wi-fi, I guess it’s not that bad). Unless you live in places like Australia or Canada, where harsh summers and, respectively, winters are a common recurrence, we’re simply not built to deal with even the smallest increase or drop in temperatures. Fret not, this doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with us as a species… well, there kind of is, but as far as climate conditions are involved, it’s only a matter of environment. Throw your dog out during a freezing day of winter (don’t actually do that, though) and you’ll see that he’s not going to cope with this better than you. Animals and humans alike are born fully equipped for the conditions of the environment they’re going to live in. Which is why, animals that inhabit the frozen corners of the world are way more capable of facing extreme winters. For this purpose, we’ve compiled a list of 5 Animals Who Were Born For Winter Conditions.
1. Polar Bears
Any kind of animal that’s preceded by the word “polar” or “arctic” is to winter what Rocky Balboa is to a ring full of D-list boxers. Basically, it’s piece of cake. A polar bear’s ultimate weapon against the cold season is its fur. For starters, it’s isolating and protected by an oily coat that’s meant to keep all moisture at bay. Given how one of the favorite meals of a polar bear is fish, that naturally involves taking a leap into frigid waters. And if Titanic taught us anything, it’s that a cold ocean is the greatest enemy to any organisms that require heat in order to not shut down completely. More than that, a polar bear’s fur coat is also great at trapping heat and creating a protective barrier against the freezing air outside.
2. Tundra And Arctic Wolves
These wolves are the real heroes of the northern hemisphere. They’re basically the real life equivalent of the Game Of Thrones direwolves. Although I can’t vouch that they can live up to the size of their fictional relatives, they are definitely just as prepared to face the harshness of winter. Their ears are short and round, and the height of their legs decreases too. Like in the case of most inhabitants of cold environments, an arctic wolf’s greatest ally is its fur layer – or, I should say, fur layers. First, there’s an overcoat with long and thick fur, often colored in white to help for blending in with the deserts of snow. Then, they also possess a secondary layer of soft fur, which serves as a means to trap the cold air that breaks through the overcoat, then warm it up with body heat. Those are some extreme survivals, man.
3. Musk Ox
Bet you weren’t expecting to see an old, boring ox on this list, were you? Well, obviously, predators aren’t the only ones who benefit from the biological winter survival kit. That would just be an unfair advantage and a sure way to disturb and destroy the food chain, especially since the musk ox already has a big disadvantage. Unlike many other arctic animals that are adapted for camouflage, this ox has the misfortune of being covered in the least subtle color you could find in a polar environment: black. Fortunately, they make up for the lack of blending in, since their fur is uniquely crafted. It has hollow hairs, which trap the air and warm it up with body heat, and the length of the coat, which almost reaches the ground, ensures that there is warmth even underneath the ox. Moreover, musk oxen have the benefit of traveling in herds (is it a herd? what do you call a gathering of oxen? is it a murder of oxen?), which means that a great alternative to warming up is cuddling! It’d be endearing if it weren’t for the fact that they’re at risk of being eaten by other animals with camouflage fur.
4. Arctic Ground Squirrels
You were already amazed by oxen, so you’re probably expecting me to detail some really cool defense mechanism. Okay, get this: arctic squirrels can set themselves on fire to be warm at all times and they come out of it completely unharmed. Alright, sorry, that’s not true. They actually just… sleep a lot. Like your average squirrel, their arctic cousins hoard as much food and warmth insulators as they can, then they fall into a seven month long hibernation. While dormant, their temperature reaches a point that’s barely above freezing and their heart rate drops considerably. I mean, yeah, sure, having cool double fur layers and camouflage powers seems pretty interesting, but from a human perspective, sleeping your way through your problems seems like the better alternative. I wish I were a squirrel.
5. Arctic Hares
What do you know, there are also cute, little polar bunnies. And, unlike the musk oxen, they were gifted with white fur to help them take shelter among the tall dunes of snow. However, an arctic hare’s greatest weapon is also cuddling, except it’s taken to a whole new extreme. There can be even hundreds of these bunnies just huddling together and keeping each other warm, though the numbers can easily be broken with the smallest of noises. The plain sound of a step is enough to get an explosion of hares that are chaotically scattering everywhere.
How prepared would you say you are to face at least half of the conditions these fellows have lived in their whole lives? Fortunately, humans can artificially claim most of these weapons: we can wear thick layers of clothes, we can gather together and cuddle to keep warm, we can try to sleep for seven months, though that’s bound to definitely fail. Either way, I put emphasis on the word “artificially,” which isn’t the case for these 5 Animals Who Were Born For Winter Conditions.