Carnivores/omnivores of the Tundra


-mostly migratory, however, some build their nests there year round

-for example, the snowy owl builds its nest along the Arctic coast where the lemming population is the highest -adjust the size of thier brood to the lemming population (when plentiful, owl will lay 8-9 eggs; when scarce, may lay none at all) and only leaves tundra when can't find any food at all

Why are snowy owls white?The feathers of the snowy owl have no pigment. This leaves more space for air which helps to keep the owl warmer because air is such a good insulator and it also makes the owl white.

To find out more about the snowy owl see this web site;

Arctic wolf

-live in packs of 5-15 with an alpha male and female as leaders and are quite sociable in caring for each other

-kill only for food - hunter spits up partially digested food for pups

-favorite prey is caribou, but since caribou can outrun wolves, they can only catch the weak, ill, and young-

-hunt caribou in groups - one wolf will trick them into running toward the pack

-live above ground except for the alpha female who digs a den for her pups

 Artic Fox

The well adapted arctic fox lives farther north than any other fox.The arctic fox can hunt lemming that they can't even see beneath the snow, but if the arctic fox can't kill enough of them, it will scrounge for leftovers from other animal kills.

Height: Height at shoulder 10-12 in. (25-30 cm.).....Weight: They weigh from 6 to 10 pounds.

Diet: Arctic fox feed primarily on small mammals, including lemmings and tundra voles. Fox living near rocky cliffs along the seacoast often depend heavily on nesting seabirds such as auklets, puffins, and murres.

As summer begins, the arctic fox sheds its white coat for a brown one, perfect cover for summer. The change back to a winter coat occurs in September and October.


Arctic fox are scavengers, and will eat almost anything, including what polar bears have left behind when they have feasted.

The arctic fox's adaptation to its subzero habitat include a compact body with short legs, short ears, dense fur, and thickly haired foot pads, which insulate against the cold and provide traction on ice.

Arctic fox walk along on top of the snow listening for the small creatures under the snow. When they hear one they jump up and down to break through the snow with their front paws. Once the snow is broken they can grab their prey.

Grizzly Bear

-a top carnivore of the tundra

-which is actually a omnivore, eating like most bears a varied diet of plants and animals...

-with approach of winter, move south to dens where it will hibernate and give birth

Polar bear

Height: Average adult male 8.5 ft. (2.6 m)

Weight: Average adult male 900 lbs. Average adult female 500 lbs.

Distinguishing Characteristics: The polar bear has many unique adaptations for dealing with the Arctic cold. The polar bear's skin is actually black, which allows it to soak up as much heat as possible from the sun. They are also great swimmers and will swim from ice floe to ice floe. They have been seen swimming 50 miles away from any ice or land. .....May live 25-30 years.

Although generally associated with the Arctic tundra, polar bears rarely venture onto the tundra - they are essentially animals of the Arctic ice pack.Females may prefer ice along the shoreline while others prefer moving sea ice at the floe edge -usually within 180 miles of shore.

-have their cubs in snow caves on the tundra, but their dens are always near the ocean

-seal hunters:eats mostly ringed and bearded seals. They will occasionally eat other mammals, eggs, vegetation and beach-cast carrion.

in the summer, they may come ashore, but they seldom go very far inland; on land, they eat the same things that Grizzlies eat, including the tundra berries

Introduction (1)

geomorphic features(3)

small herbivores (5)

carnivores (7)

vegetation plus (2)

soils & nutrient flow (4)

large herbivores (6)