Fauna

There is a wide range of animals living in the taiga, from large carnivores such as grizzly bears, to the tiniest of herbivores such as Muskrats and Lemmings. Needles on evergreen trees are thin, waxy and they do not fall off in the Autumn. The conifers of the taiga keep their leaves all year round. Needles are the leaves in the taiga biome. Conifers are adapted to the taiga environment because they lose less water and let the snow fall off their leaves more easily because of their shape. Some types of adaptations in the animals are migration, heavier coats of fur, and some change colour, such as the snow-shoe rabbit. Mice and moles live in tunnels under the snow. Some animals that live in the taiga are bears, badger, beavers, reindeer, foxes, wolverine and squirrels. Many birds migrate to the taiga in the the spring because there are so many insects to feed on after the snow melts. All of these animals have adapted well to survive the harsh climate of the taiga:

Grizzly Bear

Ursus arctos

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Mainly nocturnal, the great, hairy Grizzly bear, when necessary, can scamper as fast as a horse. Grizzly Bears are omnivores and feed on a mixture of plants, roots, sprouts, leaves, berries, fungi, fish, insects & large and small mammals. It is an expert at catching fish with its huge jaws, and will sometimes hold a fish underwater with its front paws. It digs insects from decomposing logs and a few mammals from their burrows. It devours the remains of larger mammals, such as Elk, Moose, Mountain Goats, sheep and livestock. When salmon journey upstream to lay eggs, these lonely bears gather together alongside rivers. In winter, Grizzlies put on a coating of fat, as much as 400 pounds, and become lazy and tired. They find shelter such as a cave, crevice, dead tree, or a pit dug out from underneath a rock, and will come back year after year to a good hibernation area. Grizzlies can be easily awakened. A Grizzly Bear in the wild can live 15 to 34 years. The long claws of the brown bear enable them to feed efficiently. The long claws are also useful for digging up many roots or digging out burrows of small mammals. Brown bear colours range from dark brown through light blonde.

Snowshoe Hare

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The Snowshoe Hare is a type of hare located in North America. Another name for the hare is a ‘Varying Hare’. These hares are famous for the black tufts of fur found on top of both ears, which are a lot shorter than most hares. These animals tend to eat a variety of grass, ferns and leaves. However, in the winter, when food is in short supply, they survive on bark, twigs or buds from plants. Snowshoe Hares do not hibernate! These creatures have adapted well to their icy surroundings:

·   Their fur changes colour during the different seasons so they can hide from their ravenous predators.

·   Large feet allow the Snowshoe Hare to scurry over deep snow drifts and away from predators quickly.

·   Upright ears help the hare hear sounds from many directions, giving it an excellent sense of hearing.

·   It has a sensitive nose and whiskers, which helps it smell or sense danger in the air.

·   Its teeth are very strong, made for gnawing on tree bark, woody twigs and tree buds from aspen, willow, birch, maple, sumac and alder in the winter.

The Snowshoe hare likes to live in coniferous forests, in valleys and places with aspen trees or spruce and cedar swamps. In the day, they rest or hide in the vegetation, inside hollow logs, or deserted animal burrows. At night they journey along worn down paths through the undergrowth.

     Snowshoes, although awake for most of the night, have many predators- they are tracked don by numerous predators such as coyotes, foxes, weasels, great horned owls, and larger hawks.

Size compared to a 6ft man:

Illustration of the animal's relative size

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