Les Animaux de la TaĂŻga : 20 Animaux qui Affrontent le Froid de la ForĂȘt BorĂ©ale

Animals of the Taiga: 20 Animals Who Face the Cold of the Boreal Forest

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The taiga, also known as the boreal forest, is the largest terrestrial 🏞 biome on Earth. It surrounds the planet at high latitudes in the northern hemisphere, stretching between tundra in the north and temperate forests in the south. It extends across most of interior Canada and Alaska , large parts of Scandinavia and Russia , and northern Scotland , Kazakhstan , Mongolia , Japan and the continental United States .

In the southern part of the taiga, there are large population centers such as Toronto (Canada) and Moscow (Russia) and the northern part is relatively less populated. In Siberia, the world's largest taiga stretches about 5,800 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean to the Ural Mountains. This region of the taiga was completely glaciated , or covered by glaciers, during the last ice age as was most of the taiga in North America.

This cold biome is not particularly famous for its biodiversity, especially when compared to warmer, wetter regions of lower latitudes. Yet while it can't rival the ecological richness of a tropical rainforest, the taiga still teems with many fascinating animals , whose tenacity reflects their ancestors' adaptations to this magnificently harsh habitat.

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Here are 20 wonderful animals that inhabit and populate the harsh and frigid taiga biome.

1) The Bear

Boreal forests are often excellent habitats for bears. They are home to brown bears in both Eurasia and North America, as well as Asian and North American black bears on their respective continents.

Bears' thick fur helps them cope with the freezing winters of the taiga , as does their habit of bulking up in the fall and hibernating during the colder months. As omnivores, their diet can vary greatly depending on species and habitat. Taiga bears can eat everything from roots, nuts and berries to rodents, salmon and carrion.

Brown Bear in the Taiga in a Meadow next to a Forest

2) Lynx

There are four species of lynx on Earth, two of which typically live in the taiga. The Canada lynx inhabits a large area of ​​boreal forests in Canada, Alaska and the northern contiguous United States, while the Eurasian lynx occurs across much of northern Europe and Asia . The Canada lynx primarily hunts snowshoe hares, while the larger Eurasian lynx is also known to prey as large as deer.

Gray and White Lynx in the Snow of the Boreal Forest

3) Marten

A variety of mustelids thrive in the taiga, including American and European martens , anglers, and several species of martens, otters, stoats, and weasels. These animals have a very varied diet and behavior, living in ardres 🌳 or rivers, but each is well adapted to its way of living in the taiga.

The American marten, for example, is an opportunistic predator whose diet can change with the seasons , allowing it to take advantage of a rotating list of food sources, ranging from small rodents and fish to fruits, foliage and insects.

Marten in the Snow of the Taiga in Winter with its Brown, Red and White Coat

4) Otter

Two species of otters are found 🩩 in the taiga biome in North America and Europe ; the North American otter and the European otter. The first is endemic to North America and is a semi-aquatic species found near coasts and waterways.

This otter can weigh between 5 and 14 kg and thanks to its water-repellent coat it is protected in the water. Otters feed mainly on fish . However, the prey base of these animals can also be composed by amphibians, clams, mussels, snails, and sometimes by small mammals and birds.

Two European Otters Cuddling in the Boreal Forest

5) Beavers

Boreal forests are home to Earth's last two beaver species: the North American beaver and the Eurasian beaver. Both of these species eat wood and bark, and also chew trees to build dams in streams, creating cozy shelters to help them survive the biome's harsh winters.

In addition to providing housing for their builders, beaver dams reshape the ecosystems around them, transforming streams and rivers into wetlands that benefit a range of other wildlife. Although beavers themselves only live 10 or 20 years, some of their dams can last for centuries, spanning dozens or even hundreds of beaver generations.

Taiga Brown Beaver in the Snow Next to a River

6) The Raven

The common raven is an intelligent, adaptable corvid , having found ways to survive in habitats throughout the northern hemisphere. This includes the taiga, where their ingenuity and flexible diet have helped them become one of the few bird species to inhabit the biome year-round.

Black Common Raven in the Snow and Cold Region, the Taiga

7) Salmon

Boreal forests often feature numerous streams and rivers, where fish can play an important role not only in the water itself, but also in the taiga ecosystem more broadly. Several species of salmon are found in boreal forests, including king salmon , Pacific salmon, and pink salmon .

After hatching in the rivers of the taiga, the salmon go to sea 🌊 to reach maturity, then return to reproduce in the rivers of the taiga where they were born. This annual influx of salmon into the taiga biome provides an essential food source for bears and other animals.

Pink Salmon in a River in a Forest in the Taiga biome

Other fish are found that are well adapted to survival in cold water and when the water surface remains frozen during the winter. Common fish species found in the taiga habitat include Alaskan blackfish, lake whitefish and round whitefish, brook trout, Siberian taim, walleye yellow, black sucker and red sucker.

8) The Golden Eagle

Although not usually found in dense forests, the golden eagle is found in open regions at the edge of the taiga , in both North America and Eurasia. It also occupies a number of other habitats in more temperate regions. The royal eagle 🩅, which owes its name (Golden Eagle in English) to the golden brown color of its plumage, can reach a wingspan of 224 cm.

Golden Eagle in the Snow Hunting and Catching a Red Fox in its Talons

Usually found singly or in pairs, the golden eagle flies or soars with its wings raised in a slight "V" and the wingtip feathers spread out like fingers. It captures prey on or near the ground, locating them by gliding, flying low above the ground, or hunting from a perch. It hunts a wide variety of prey including mammals, snakes and birds, and it can also eat carrion.

9) The Gray Wolf

Wolves have adapted to diverse environments around the world, from deserts and rocky mountains to grasslands, wetlands and taiga forests. They typically hunt in packs, which helps them take down large ungulates like deer, elk, moose, and caribou. Wolves đŸș are also intelligent and resourceful, and often adapt their diet depending on the season and location.

Pack of Gray Wolves in a Forest and Running in the Snow

They can switch from large prey to smaller animals like rabbits, rodents and birds, for example, while some populations living near rivers can learn to focus on fish. Wolves are also known to eat a variety of tree fruits, berries, and other vegetarian foods; they can also benefit from carrion if conditions demand it.

10) Wolverine

Many mustelids live in the taiga, such as the minks, martens, otters, stoats and weasels mentioned above, but one mustelid stands out from the rest, both in its size and its tenacity đŸ§—â€â™‚ïž. The wolverine is the largest mustelid on earth (only sea otters grow larger and heavier).

Wolverine in the North of Canada in the Taiga Walking between Two Rocks in the Forest

Wolverines are primarily scavengers, but they also hunt live prey, including some animals much larger than themselves, such as deer. He is renowned for his disproportionate strength and ferocity . It lives in the taiga in North America and Eurasia, although its numbers and range have declined in some places due to hunting and habitat degradation by humans.

11) Mosquitoes

The taiga cannot boast the insect diversity of some other more southern biomes, but the insects that live there often explode into huge populations during the summer 🌞. Perhaps the most notorious examples are mosquitoes, whose swarms sometimes turn into blood-sucking clouds in the taiga, especially in wetlands. These mosquitoes can be a nuisance, but they are also a valuable food source for many birds and other native animals.

Mosquito Clinging to a Leaf in the Boreal Forest

12) Moose (Moose)

The moose or elk is the largest member of the deer family, and one of the largest herbivores of the taiga . They are not grazers because they focus on taller, woodier plants like shrubs and trees rather than grasses. They eat the foliage of broad-leaved trees and aquatic plants in summer, then feed on a multitude of twigs and woody buds in winter. Moose is also a valuable food source for gray wolves.

Elk or Moose in the Green Forest and Yellow Grasses of the Roaring Taiga

13) The Red Fox

The red fox 🩊 (Vulpes vulpes) is a widespread and extremely adaptable member of the Canidae dog family. It is capable of inhabiting wild areas such as tundra and taiga, but it can also live alongside humans, and it resides in many large cities.

Larger than any other true fox (i.e. a member of the genus Vulpes), the red fox hunts a wide range of small mammals and birds, and also eats carrion. It usually hunts alone, using its eyesight and excellent senses of hearing and smell.

Red Fox in the Snow of the Boreal Forest Watching

14) The Siberian Tiger

Yes, the taiga has tigers. While Earth's largest cats are most often associated with the warm forests of Southeast Asia, they also inhabit the boreal forests of Siberia, where they are a key species for their ecosystem. Taiga tigers typically hunt ungulates like Siberian musk deer, sika deer, wild boar, elk, and moose, as well as smaller prey like rabbits, hares, and fish.

Siberian Tiger Hunting a Black Bird in the Taiga Snow and Running

15) The Reindeer (Caribou)

Known as caribou in North America and reindeer in Europe , these large ungulates are icons of the frigid North. They are famous for their mass migrations across the tundra, but some herds and subspecies also live in boreal forests.

One subspecies, the boreal woodland caribou , is larger than most other caribou and is among the largest animals in the taiga. Found across a large region of Canada 🍁 and Alaska, these caribou spend the majority of their lives among trees in undisturbed boreal forests and wetlands. Unlike the enormous migratory herds formed by certain subspecies, woodland caribou generally live in small family groups of 10 to 12 individuals.

Reindeer or Caribou in the Snow and Cold of the Boreal Forest

16) The Great Gray Owl

Boreal forests are the prime habitat for great gray owls, ethereal raptors that glide silently among the trees in search of prey. They are native to North America, Scandinavia, Russia and Mongolia. The gray owl or great gray owl is one of the largest owls in the world in terms of length, but much of its apparent mass is made up of thick plumage; several other owl species are heavier.

The gray owl is crepuscular ( active at dusk and dawn ) and feeds almost entirely on voles 🐭. Thanks to their excellent hearing, they are able to spot their prey before striking, even through the snow.

Great Gray Owl or Gray Owl on the Branch of a Tree in the Snow of the Taiga

17) The Red Crossbill

In summer, the taiga is heavily frequented by birds, as more than 300 species use the biome as a breeding ground. Most, however, only live there seasonally; as winter approaches, up to 5 billion birds migrate out of the taiga to warmer climes to the south.

Insects and many other food sources disappear in winter, but a few species of carnivorous or seed-eating birds still live in the taiga year-round. This last group includes for example some cross-billed beaks, whose namesake beak helps them open pine cones and access other hard-to-reach seeds, ensuring a reliable food supply during the harsh boreal winter 🌹.

Crossbill on Fir Thorns with a Pine Cone in its Beak

18) The Boreal Chorus Frog

The taiga is not an easy place for amphibians to live with its cold winters and short summers, but a few still live there. One of these is the boreal chorus frog , which inhabits much of central Canada, including taiga and even some tundra habitats, as well as the central United States.

Boreal Chorus Frogs 🐾 are tiny, measuring less than 4 cm as adults . They spend the winter in hibernation, but come out in early spring, often when snow and ice are still on the ground. Their breeding call sounds like a "reeeeek", like the sound of fingers running along the teeth of a comb.

Boreal Chorus Frog on Taiga Snow

You can listen to the Call of the Boreal Chorus Frog on the National Park Service Sound Library.

19) Taiga Rodents and Rabbits

A large number of rodents and rabbits live in the taiga biome. Beavers , squirrels , voles , rats , and mice are some of the rodents that live in the taiga. These rodents are a vital part of the food chain and are the food source for a number of taiga carnivores like weasels, minks, stoats, bobcats, coyotes and others.

In addition to these rodents, there are also rabbits and hares in the taiga ( rabbits are not rodents , but lagomorphs). Among the rabbits 🐇 and the hares that live in the taiga, the snowshoe hare weighs about 1 to 2 kilos and measures between 36 and 52 cm. These hares have a thick brown coat in the summer, which changes to a white, woolly coat in the winter. Like rodents, these animals are also an important food source for a number of taiga predators.

Snowshoe Hare in the Snow of the Boreal Forest

20) Taiga Reptiles (European Common Viper)

Just like amphibians, very few species of reptiles live in the cold habitat of the taiga. Freezing winters and short summers are a big challenge for cold-blooded taiga reptiles. The red-sided snake and the European viper are two species of snakes whose range extends to the taiga regions of North America and Europe.

These snakes 🐍 hibernate during the winter to avoid dying in this harsh environment. Both of these species are found farther north than any other snake. The European pit viper can be recognized by its dark zigzag pattern on its back. Although the species is venomous, its bite is rarely fatal.

European Common Viper on Pebbles in the Sun

Animal Adaptations for Living in the Taiga

Animals have many adaptations to survive the taiga biome. Many taiga birds migrate south to find warmer climes once the cold winter weather begins. Other animals burrow underground (rodents and shrews). The snowshoe hare, like the ermine, adapts by changing color seasonally as a type of camouflage to protect itself from predators (brownish in summer and white in winter).

Many birds 🐩 feed on seeds and berries of conifers. Birds like geese, waterfowl, woodpeckers and ducks migrate south to avoid the long, cold winter. Some taiga animals store extra layers of fat , feathers, or fur to help them stay warm and alive during cold winters. Other animals have developed large feet or hooves to help them move through the often deep and heavy winter snow.

Common Goldeneye Bird Migrating from the Taiga to the South to Escape the Cold of Winter

The Taiga Boreal Forest Under Threat

Taiga ecosystems are threatened by direct human activity and climate change. Taiga animals, such as foxes or bears, have always been hunted. Their warm fur and tough skin, turned into leather, has helped people survive harsh climates for thousands of years.

A- The Paper Industry and Forestry with Clear Cutting

The most serious threat to the taiga, however, does not come from hunting activity. Civilization depends on strong buildings for homes, industry and schools. Taiga trees are cut down for lumber projects, as well as for paper, cardboard, and other supplies. The export of wood and paper products is one of the most economically important industries in Canada, for example.

Clearcutting is the most popular type of logging in the taiga. Clearcutting involves cutting down all trees in a designated area . This destroys the habitats of many organisms that live in and around trees and makes it difficult for new trees to grow.

Clear-cutting a Forest in the Taiga that Threatens it

Clearcutting also increases the risk of erosion and flooding in the taiga . Without a root system to anchor it, taiga soil can be blown away by wind or worn away by rain or snow. This exposes the bedrock and permafrost beneath the taiga, which does not support many life forms.

B- Climate Change

Climate change is putting the taiga at risk in different ways. Climate warming contributes to a partial thawing of permafrost . Since this water has no place to drain, more of the taiga is taken up by muskegs (taiga swamp). Few trees take root.

Warming temperatures also change animal habitats. It repels native species and attracts non-native species. Animals like the Siberian tiger are not adapted to hot weather đŸ”„ . Its coat is too heavy and it stores too much body fat to thrive in a temperate habitat.

Taiga Biome Landscape with Fir Trees, Mountains, River and Forest

Non-native insects such as the bark beetle can infest trees like spruce. Millions of these insects dig holes in the bark of trees and lay eggs. Infested trees die. Bark beetle infestations can kill entire forests and thousands of hectares of taiga.

Now you know 20 animals that live in the taiga, a harsh biome to face every day. If you know of other animals that live in the boreal forest, do not hesitate to tell us in the comments at the bottom of this article, we will be happy to read them! Also discover our stuffed animals, some of which live in the taiga such as teddy bears , wolf stuffed animals or tiger stuffed animals .

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