The taiga, derived from the Russian word "forest," is one of the largest and coldest terrestrial habitats on Earth. Also known as boreal forest, the coniferous forests of the taiga lie between the tundra and deciduous forests, and stretch across Eurasia and North America. Despite a cold and harsh climate that ranges from around -50 degrees Celsius to 30 degrees Celsius all through the year; several animals have structurally adapted themselves to survive in the taiga. Prominent among the taiga animals are grizzly bears, moose, wolverine, lynx, and red fox.
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Grizzly bears have silver-tinted fur and are identifiable by a strange shoulder hump that is absent in other bears. Omnivores, grizzly bears survive on the taiga's 200 different plant types that comprise around seventy-five per cent of their diet. The remaining twenty-five per cent of their diet includes insects, honey, small rodents, mammals, and carcases. These bears avoid the taiga's cold weather by staying in their dens during the fall until early spring. According to the New Hampshire Public Television website, grizzly bears don't hibernate, but just sleep lightly and stay out of the cold. Their protective fat layer allows them to stay in their dens for long periods during cold weather.
The largest member of the deer family, the taiga moose has a broad, overhanging muzzle and a flap of skin called a bell hanging from its throat. Less social than other deer, the moose generally lives in isolation except during the breeding season. A good swimmer, the moose feeds on the taiga's woody plants in winter, and in summer it subsists on water plants for the bulk of its food.
The largest member of the weasel family, the wolverine is a strong animal resembling a small bear. Because of their attractive fur, which was used to line parkas, wolverines were once prime targets for fur trappers in North America. Omnivores, the wolverine's diet includes plants and berries, though small prey like rabbits and rodents form a major portion of their diet. Opportunistic hunters, wolverines even attack much larger animals like caribou, if they appear weak or injured. Wolverines subsist on the corpses of larger mammals like elk, deer, and caribou during the winter months and also dig into burrows and eat hibernating mammals, states the National Geographic website.
Lynx is the name given to four wildcats, including the Canadian lynx, Eurasian or Siberian lynx, bobcat, also known as the wildcat, and the Spanish or Iberian lynx. The fur coat colour of the lynx, a medium-sized cat varies according to its climate range. Lynxes based in the southern regions are short-haired, dark coloured with small paws whereas lynxes in northern regions have thicker coats, light colour, and large padded paws. Lynx are carnivores who hunt during the day on a wide range of animals including reindeer, roe deer, small red deer, caribou, chamois, birds, and small mammals like snowshoe hares, fish, sheep, and goats, according to the Animal Corner website.
The red fox is an original inhabitant of the taiga forests, although today it is found across the tundra and the tropics within Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia. The red fox has a rusty-red fur, a white-tipped bushy tail, and black legs, ears, and nose. Growing up to two and a half feet long, this intelligent fox is well-adapted to different habitats. A nocturnal carnivore, the red fox hunts small mammals like squirrels, rabbits, and hares.
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