The coldest animals in the world

Posted on Mar 15, 2012 in Habitat

Warmest bathers in the cold – The Japanese macaques

During winter in the Himalayan  mountains where these monkeys live, temperatures can fall to below   -15° C. Understandably they find this a bit chilly, so to keep warm they  choose to have a nice warm bath in the hot mountain springs.


Polar Bear

©Ilana Vargulich -

Coolest hunter – The polar bear

If something moves then it’s on the menu for these gigantic predators. Insulated and camouflaged by thick fur, they stalk seals across the ice. However if a pursued seal escapes into the water, which they often do, they resort to Plan B. This entails waiting patiently at a breathing hole until the seal surfaces and then seizing it with their powerful jaws.


Coolest groupies – Emperor penguins 

These birds survive the harsh environment of Antarctica, where temperatures can reach a teeth chattering -60° C. And with chilly winds reaching 100mph, it can help having a few friends to cosy up to. Which is why penguin communities can be over half a million birds. To keep warm they  huddle together and rather democratically take it in turns to be on the inside.


Wood frog

© Carolina K Smith MD - flickr

Freeze me, it’s fine! – The wood frog

When it comes to party tricks few can challenge the wood frog who can survive being frozen almost solid! The reason being that ice crystals form under the frog’s skin, and its heart stops. When the ice thaws, the frog miraculously comes to life again.


Ice fish

© Ryan Somma - flickr

The coldest fish – The icefish

Icefish produce a natural antifreeze in their blood that enables them to withstand  temperatures of zero degrees celcius - which would kill other fish.


The weta

© Urby - flickr

Coldest insects – The weta & tardigrade

This large insect can stay frozen for months without frostbite, even when all heart and brain activity ceases and it has lost 99% of the water in its body. However that’s nothing compared to the tardigrade, a microscopic insect-like creature also known as a water bear. This little tough guy can survive being frozen to within one degree of absolute zero (-272°C).


Monarch butterfly

© Alan vernon - flickr

Shiver time – Bees and butterflies

The tundra bee keeps warm by shivering. Similarly, the monarch butterfly flaps its wings to regain warmth, enabling it to gain enough strength to fly. As dusk approaches and the temperature drops, if the butterfly cannot warm up quickly enough - it will be unable to fly and will die overnight.


Musk oxen

© Clairity- flickr

Warmest coat – The musk oxen

Helping them to keep warm, musk oxen have a thick coat of densely packed coarse hair. However in the unlikely event you pass one in the wild - don’t get too close because they stink. They pee on their legs to keep warm and when they sit down the pee is soaked up by their hairy coat - producing the ponk from hell.



© Mike Baird - flickr

Hottest in the cold – The seal

Overheating in the Arctic isn’t something that worries most of us. But for ‘blubbertastic’ southern elephant seals it can be a real problem. Which is why in the summertime, they cool down by panting, flapping their flippers and rolling on the ground!

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