Watch Feeling the Heat with Jeff Corwin to learn how climate change is affecting this cool cat.
A glimpse of its stubby tail or tufted ears and you may mistake a Canada lynx for its bobcat cousin, but this big cat is more adept at navigating the deep, snow-packed forests of Canada and a handful of northern states, including Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Montana,Washington and Wyoming. These finicky felines can’t live just anywhere. They have very specific habitat needs: older forest with good cover for building dens and younger forest with thick vegetation for hunting prey such as snowshoe hare.
National forests provide habitat for Canada lynx.
A snowshoe hare’s fluffy white camouflage is no match for the lynx’s expert eyes and long, tufted ears. Unless the bunny makes a dash for it, that is, since lynx aren’t designed for endurance chases. You would think that those long legs would offer some benefit to make up for its strikingly odd proportions (smallish cat body with oversize limbs and massive feet). But they do come in handy in deep, fluffy snow, which offers an excellent advantage over competing predators such as coyote and bobcat. Combined with those big snowshoe-like paws, the lynx is like a four-wheel-drive vehicle — able to go where others dare not.
The Canada lynx remains a threatened species in the lower-48 states, with only around 1,000 cats calling U.S. forests home. Unfortunately, climate change is making it tougher for them to survive. Loss of snow or changes in its density due to warming temperatures affects the lynx’s hunting abilities — as well as the number of snowshoe hares.
These two river otters could be headed for a full blown tussle. All in the name of play, of course. River otters are quite social and regularly engage in impromptu wrestling matches. Young or old, male or female – any otter will do. And when playtime’s over, it’s time to go back to hunting for food…or napping.
Did you know that a river otter can hold its breath for as long as eight minutes and dive as deep as 60 feet?
These sleek mammals mainly eat fish, and you can see why: Just take a look at their streamlined bodies and long tails. It’s easy to picture them gliding across the water’s surface before plunging quickly to the bottom — holding their breath for as long as eight minutes and diving as deep as 60 feet in search of food.
River otters maintain a natural balance for rivers and other aquatic habitats. They once thrived throughout much of the United States. However, trapping has caused the decline or extinction of many state populations. Fortunately, there are efforts underway to help restore river otters to their former haunts.
We all know polar bears don’t drink soda, but did you know that they don’t drink anything at all? Polar bears get all the fluids they need from food instead.
This is just one of the many amazing adaptations polar bears have for living in the frozen Arctic. Others include a thick chunk of blubber (nearly 4.5 inches!) under double layered fur to help them stay warm and large paws soled with bumpy pads and long hairs between their toes that give them traction on slippery ice. And beneath that signature white coat is black skin, which absorbs heat from the sun.
Bearded seals are important prey for polar bears.
Although the Arctic seems like a treacherous place to live, polar bears depend on these frozen areas for hunting and breeding. They need the sea ice to stand on as they hunt seals, and the snowy drifts to build dens for their cubs. Unfortunately, their habitat is disappearing due to climate change — threatening this animal’s very survival.
Learn more about how climate change is impacting polar bears with Jeff Corwin in his video series Feeling the Heat.
What Defenders Is Doing
In addition to working to reduce greenhouse gas pollution responsible for climate change, Defenders is pushing for protection of important polar bear habitat in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. As melting sea ice makes the polar bears’ seal prey harder to find, Defenders is also working with Alaskan communities to help the hungry bears and minimize human-bear conflict. Read more about our efforts in our polar bear fact sheet and new report, Sea Bear Under Siege.
What You Can Do
Through our Wildlife Adoption Center, you can help struggling polar bears and support our work to protect them and other imperiled species.