The freezing taiga is one of the harshest environments on the planet.
These boreal forests are located in the far northern reaches of the world and cover over 17% of the land on Earth, making it the world’s largest biome.
The taiga is well-known for its hostile conditions, with a winter that lasts for six months and less than 100 days of summer each year.
But despite how harsh the conditions in the taiga can be, this biome is home to a wide variety of fascinating animals that have adapted to the freezing climate.
In this article, we’ll take you through some of the amazing animals that can be found in the taiga biome.
Here, we’ll look at the tough creatures that have made their homes in this unlikely climate, and some of the ways that they have adapted to life in one of the toughest environments on the planet!
So let’s get started, shall we?
Animals That Live In The Taiga
1) Brown Bear
One of the most well-known animals of the taiga is the brown bear.
Brown bears fall into three subspecies – the Eurasian brown bear, the Kodiak bear, and the grizzly bear – and all of these can be found in the taiga biome.
Brown bears are the taiga’s largest predators, and can grow up to 10’ tall when on their hind legs and weigh over 1500 lbs!
They are also omnivorous; their diets primarily consist of fish, berries, and small animals.
A thick coating of fur protects bears from the freezing climate, and they typically fatten themselves up before hibernating through the harsh winter.
You can also find polar bears in the taiga, though they are more common further north in the Arctic circle.
Another one of the taiga’s largest animals, the caribou is an ungulate (or hooved mammal) that is instantly recognizable by its large antlers.
Also known as the reindeer in Europe, caribou make their home in the boreal forests of northern Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia.
The taiga is home to several species of caribou.
The smallest of these is the Peary caribou, while the largest is the boreal woodland caribou; unfortunately, both of these species are classed as endangered due to dwindling habitats.
3) Siberian Tigers
Tigers might not be the first animal you associate with the taiga, but the Siberian tiger is one of its most iconic creatures.
These majestic big cats are the largest species of tiger in the world, measuring up to 10 feet long from head to tail and weighing up to 660 lbs.
Found in the icy regions of eastern Siberia and northern China, Siberian tigers are critically endangered(see also: Why Are Tigers Endangered?).
Poaching and destruction of habitat have severely decimated Siberian tiger populations, and as few as 400 Siberian tigers are left in the wild.
4) North American Beavers
Animals in the taiga come in all shapes and sizes, and not every creature there is as large as a brown bear or Siberian tiger.
North American beavers are one of only two remaining beaver species in the world (with the other being the Eurasian beaver) and are native to the boreal forests of the northern USA and Canada.
These beavers have a diet consisting of tree bark and twigs, which they harvest and chew with their large, strong front teeth.
Beavers also use their teeth to break down trees to turn into dams in rivers, which they use as shelter.
A beaver dam can stand for hundreds of years, housing generations of beavers; they also play a large part in the surrounding ecosystem by redirecting the flow of the river around them!
5) Gray Wolves
The gray wolf is the largest wolf species in the world.
They live and hunt together in large packs of up to 10 wolves, where they work together to take down large prey like caribou and moose.
Gray wolves are renowned for their intelligence and adaptability, which helps them survive the harsh climate of the taiga biome
6) Great Gray Owls
In addition to the wide array of mammals found in the taiga is a variety of bird species.
The great gray owl is native to the northern regions of Russia, Scandinavia, and North America, where it is one of the most deadly predators in the region.
Despite their name and size, great gray owls typically weigh less than 3 lbs; however, they have a voracious appetite and will eat up to 7 vole-sized animals in a day over the winter months.
That’s almost a third of its body weight!
Great gray owls are deadly hunters.
They use their incredible sight and hearing to pinpoint their prey before swooping in silently to catch it in their vicious talons.
Because the rivers and lakes in taiga biomes tend to freeze over in the winter, the fish that live there need to be tough enough to survive until the surface of the water melts in the spring.
One of these hardy fish is the salmon, and several species of salmon (such as the chinook, pink, and chum salmon) live in the taiga.
These fish are a favorite food of the bears in the region, and they play a vital role in the biome’s ecosystem through their yearly migration, known as ‘salmon runs’.
Here, they bring nutrients from the ocean into the icy taiga rivers, which helps nourish the water and benefits the soil and other fish in the area.
8) Boreal Chorus Frogs
Not many amphibians live in the taiga, as the freezing temperatures make it hard for these cold-blooded animals to regulate their body temperature.
Some hardy amphibians have still made the taiga their home, however, including the boreal chorus frog.
These tiny frogs are native to central Canada, and they spend most of the winter in hibernation to protect themselves against the harsh climate.
They get their name from their mating call – when they emerge from hibernation in spring, groups of the frogs will gather to call for a mate en masse.
This call is unique, and sounds like someone running their finger across the teeth of a comb.
There you have it – 8 amazing animals that live in the taiga!
These fascinating animals prove that life finds a way to exist even in the toughest climates.
The world is home to all sorts of incredible animals, and even the harsh environment of the freezing taiga contains a varied and diverse ecosystem where all sorts of animals live and thrive.
So while the taiga may be one of the toughest places to live in the world, there are still plenty of animals that have adapted in various ways to survive in this cold and unforgiving landscape.