Discover 15 Animals With Coat Colors That Change in the Winter

The chance to warm up indoors with a cup of hot cocoa and watch the snow fall out the window is something that many of us look forward to every winter. But winter is frequently a hard season for wild creatures to survive.

While some animals hibernate to escape the strain to locate food until the weather warms, others migrate to warmer climates. Some people use small techniques to blend in with their surroundings so they can hunt and hide from predators more successfully. This post will introduce you to fifteen animals whose coat colors vary with the seasons to help them flourish in the cold.

1. Rock Ptarmigan

Arctic higherlands are home to a species of grouse known as rock ptarmigans. They relocate even further southward to lower elevations during the winter, where the climate is milder. The male and female ptarmigans’ wintertime white plumage serves as a means of camouflage against potential predators. Two further species of ptarmigans that undergo coat color changes in the winter are the white-tailed and willow ptarmigans.

Early in the breeding season, the females molt and get their brown summer feathers, which help to conceal and protect them as they lay eggs. But the males maintain their white coloration far into the early breeding season. The downy softness of the white plumage not only helps the birds blend in with their surroundings but also keeps them warm. In order to use their feathers as snowshoes to navigate soft, fluffy drifts, they even develop feathers down to the tips of their toes in the winter.

2. Snowshoe Hares

Winter wizards also include snowshoe hares in North America. Because of their rusty brown summer coat, hares are very adaptable to their environment. But when winter arrives, the hares’ fur whitens to match their wintry surroundings.

These remarkable hares have developed huge hind paws in addition to changing the color of their coats to cope to the harsh winters in the woodlands and forest bogs. The creatures can jump across the snow without sinking thanks to these feet, which resemble snowshoes. They are kept warm and keep their feet from freezing thanks to the fur on the soles of their feet.

3. Weasels

Weasels come in three kinds, and the colors of their coats change with the weather. The summer fur of the least, short-tailed, and long-tailed weasels is brown, but it becomes white in the winter. With the arrival of late autumn, hormones that alter the body’s production of pigments containing melanin are activated when the number of sunshine hours drops.

It takes three to five weeks for the weasels’ brown fur to grow back to its white winter coat. This winter coat is longer and heavier to provide warmth for the animals, in addition to being white to fit in with the snow. The weasels’ melanin-containing pigments are then again activated as the number of daylight hours rises in the spring, and they start to create their brown fur for the summer.

4. Peary Caribou

The Peary caribou is a subspecies of caribou found in Canada’s Northwest Territories and high Arctic islands of Nunavut. These deer family members are classified as a Threatened Species. They are also the smallest species of caribou in North America.

Because of their small stature, which helps them retain body heat, and their uniquely designed hooves, which enable them to walk on the icy and snowy surfaces of their habitats, these caribou have adapted to their surroundings. Additionally, their diets have adjusted to fit the brief, extremely dense growing season of plants. In the winter, their fur, or pelage, becomes white to help with camouflage.

5. Collared Lemmings

The polar tundra is home to the tiny collared lemmings, which are about 6 inches long and weigh about 4 ounces. Like chipmunks, they have dark lines running down their backs and pale to dark grey summer coats. But they are among the very few rodent species whose coats go white in the winter.

Collared lemmings grow their white pelage to help them adjust to their snowy winter environment. In the winter, they too reside beneath the snow and survive by eating willow twigs and buds. To get food and warmth, they really burrow beneath the snow to the permafrost layer.

6. Siberian Hamsters

The Siberian hamster, sometimes referred to as Campbell’s hamster, is just 4 inches long. These rodents were originally found on Siberian steppes. Their belly are white, and their feet are silver.

Siberian hamsters have three long, dark stripes down their backs and brown or gray fur on their upper body throughout the summer. However, their fur turns white throughout the winter. Its incredibly silky and warm fur is an adaption to its original chilly home.

7. Arctic Foxes

The living environment of these foxes is the extreme Arctic climate. There are eight subspecies of Arctic foxes, including the Icelandic and Mainland species. They eat carrion, berries, and fish, but lemmings are mostly necessary for their survival.

As winter draws near, the hue and thermal protection of an Arctic fox’s fur shifts. In the winter, their summer coats of gray, brown, or bluish brown turn thick and white. To be warm, foxes will frequently cuddle into balls in their dens and wrap their soft, thick tails around themselves.

8. Stoats

Typically, stoats live alone and only associate with other stoats during mating. They are fierce small animals with the ability to pull, kill, and consume prey five times larger than themselves. Their favorite food is rabbits, and these little weasels will consume almost one-third of their body weight in rabbit or other prey per day.

These animals, which are found in both North America and Eurasia, inhabit moorlands and forests. They have brown fur on top of their bodies and white stomachs in the summer. However, they lose their brown fur in the winter and grow ermine, a thick white fur that keeps them warm and disguised.

9. Reindeer

Of the fourteen subspecies of deer, caribou comprise half of them. The phrases caribou and reindeer are occasionally used interchangeably. Reindeer can be found in regions such as Greenland, Russia, and the Lapland area.

In the winter, the coats of reindeer change from a darker brown to a lighter shade, practically white. The colors of the reindeer’s coats can also vary depending on their habitat. Reindeer in the wooded regions typically have darker coats than those in Greenland, which are white.

10. Arctic Wolves

Arctic wolves inhabit the tundra above the northern treeline in both North America and Greenland. Only elite alpha and beta females are permitted to give birth to pups in these harsh northern locations. This will prevent the pups from starving in the event that food supplies run low.

Since it’s winter for them nearly all year round, they have two layers of thick white fur. In addition, they have fur between their toes to keep their feet warm in the snow, cushioned paws for warmth and improved traction on the ice tundra, and short ears to prevent heat loss through them.

11. White-tailed A jackrabbit

The white-tailed jackrabbit is actually a hare. These animals can leap ten feet into the air, run forty miles per hour, and run immediately after birth. With the exception of the Arctic and Alaskan hares, they are the third largest species of hare.

White-tailed jackrabbits have light gray bellies and a dark brown or gray upper coat in the summer. Their ears remain darker even after they turn white during the winter. They live in Canada and the northern regions of America, where their ability to adapt to different colors helps them to thrive.

12. Alaskan Hare

The largest species of hare is the Alaskan hare, sometimes called the tundra hare. While they will use any adjacent bush when they are not searching for roots, tubers, wood, bark, or stems, these creatures prefer the open, frozen Arctic tundra.

These creatures spend the most of the year alone. However, they will group together when there is snow cover. Their fur is gray or brownish, and their bellies are white. Their thick, white winter fur helps them blend in with the icy landscape while still offering warmth.

13. Arctic Hares

Arctic hares are found on some of the islands in Greenland and in the severe northern regions of Canada. They can pull plants out of the stony tundra cracks because to their larger and straighter teeth than most other hares. Even though they mostly lead solitary lives, they do gather in groups to feed.

Brownish-gray These hares have black tips on their ears in the summer. The tips of their ears stay black throughout the winter, despite the fact that their fur goes completely white. They can dig through snow and ice with the aid of their strong claws as they move across the frozen tundra.

14. Mountain Hares

Mountain hares live throughout northern England and Scotland. They typically reside in upland environments like heathlands. They burrow down in what are known as forms, which are small indentations in the ground, and consume plants and bark. They can run up to 45 miles per hour and will utilize their hind legs to move forward when they feel threatened.

Their coats are gray-brown in the summer. Their coats frequently have a bluish hue. Their fur becomes a thick white in the winter to help them stay warm and disguised. The black points on only their ears have not faded.

15. Snow Leopards

Snow leopards inhabit twelve different locations of Asia. They are elusive beings that wander and dwell alone. They fit in with their surroundings so well and are so sly that they have earned the nickname “ghost cats of the Himalayas” from numerous people.

These large felines are real disguise experts. Their gray-yellow fur in the summertime complements their hilly surroundings and flourishing vegetation. Their coats turn the same off-white hue as the surrounding snow when winter arrives.

Overview of Animals With Coat Colors That Change in Winter

Animal Habitat
Rock ptarmigan Arctic mountains
Snowshoe hares Woodlands and forest bogs of North America
Weasles Diverse habitats — moors, marshes, urban areas, and woodlands
Peary caribou Europe and North America
Collared lemmings Arctic tundra
Siberian hamsters Originally from the icy steppes Siberia, but now a large population are domesticated as pets.
Arctic foxes Arctic environment
Stoats North American and European woodlands and moorlands
Reindeer Greenland, Russia, and Lapland regions
Arctic Wolves North American and Greenland tundra habitats
White-tailed jackrabbit Canada and northern parts of America
Alaskan hares Tundra habitats of Alaska
Arctic hares Mountainous and tundra regions of the Arctic
Mountain hares Scotland and northern England
Snow leopards Range is across 12 different regions in Asia

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