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Have you ever wondered how animals stay warm in the winter? Learn all about their natural cozy coats and the other awesome tricks they use to make it through the cold conditions!

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Arctic Fox:

Arctic Fox Spring Coat:

Arctic Fox Keeping Warm:

Arctic Fox:

Arctic Hare:

Arctic Hare Mild Weather:

Ptarmigan with winter coat:

Ptarmigan on rock:

Ptarmigan feet:


Ice Texture : Eddi Van W.

Arctic Council Map:

Migrating Birds:,_USA_-migrating-8.jpg
[Intro plays]

Jessi: One of the best parts of winter is curling up with a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa and watching the snow fall outside, while you stay nice and warm. But what do animals do when it gets cold? They don’t have blankets, hot cocoa or heated houses like we do.

Well, different animals have different ways of dealing with winter weather. Some animals migrate, or move to a warmer place for the winter. And some of them hibernate, or hang out in their cozy dens underground. They don’t come out until it’s warm again. But other animals don’t migrate or hibernate, and they manage to live in places with really cold winters. But how do they do it?

Well, they’ve come up with a pretty cool way to fit in with their snowy environment. I’ll give you a hint: It involves a winter coat. Not a jacket with buttons or a zipper like you or I might wear. Instead, they have fur and feathers that cover their bodies when it gets cold! When the days get shorter, these animals shed their brown or gray colors and grow white fur or feathers to help them make it through the winter.

Let’s meet some of these color-changing animals and find out how their special coverings help them survive the chilly season. First up is the arctic fox. The arctic fox gets its name from where it lives—in the Arctic! The Arctic is located at the most northern part of the world, around the North Pole. Arctic foxes live on the land and sea ice, where they hunt birds and other small animals.

But they don’t always look the same from season to season. When the days get shorter and colder, their coats get thicker and whiter. This is what an arctic fox looks like in the spring. And this is what it looks like in the winter, with its winter coat. The most important thing about the fox’s winter coat is that it keeps the animal warm. With its extra thick fur coat -- and bushy tail to wrap around its body -- the Arctic fox is better at holding onto its body heat than nearly any other Arctic animal.

But their fur does more than just give them warmth. Their white coat also camouflages them, or helps them blend in with their surroundings. Blending in with the snow lets the foxes sneak up on their prey, like arctic hares and small birds. And it also helps them hide from bigger animals that might want to sneak up on them. But when the seasons change, so do their coats! In the summer, arctic foxes shed their white coats and grow new ones that are brown or gray, to blend in with their surroundings after the snow is gone.

Now, things can get tricky for the arctic fox, because one of the animals that it likes to eat -- the arctic hare -- uses some of the same tricks to survive the winter! Arctic hares also live—you guessed it!—in the Arctic, mostly in forests. And like the foxes, they have thick white coats of fur to keep them warm, plus pads of thick hair on the bottoms of their feet. Now, some arctic hares live further south, where there’s less snow. So they actually grow darker coats that help them blend in in those environments, where there are more rocks and plants than there is snow. No matter where they live, though, arctic hares like to keep their fur clean. So they groom themselves like cats do, by licking their fur. The cleaner their fur is, the warmer it keeps them!

Our last animal with a winter coat doesn’t have fur at all. It’s a bird! Called a ptarmigan. The ptarmigan lives in the Arctic, too, and it can often be found hiding in bushes or behind rocks to avoid predators. They have feathers that change from brown in the summer to white in the winter to help camouflage them from bigger animals. Their soft, fluffy feathers are pressed close to their skin, trapping in their body heat, and keeping the birds toasty warm in the snow. They also have extra feathers on their legs and feet to help keep them warm. And ptarmigans have other ways of staying warm in the winter, too. Sometimes, they’ll fly straight into a pocket of the powdery snow -- this makes a little burrow, or tunnel, in the snow that they can snuggle up in. Kind of like... the fort!

Whether it’s extra-thick fur to help keep them warm, or white hair and feathers to keep them out of sight, when it comes to living in winter, these Arctic animals have it covered!

Thanks for learning about them with us! And remember, if you have a question about anything you’d like to learn more about, just let us know by getting help from a parent, and leaving a comment below or emailing us at We’ll see you next time!