Wildlife

Fun Alaska Animal Facts

coyoteDid you know that coyotes can run as fast as 40 miles per hour, and travel up to 400 miles while stopping only occasionally?  Or that bison, which stand up to 6 feet tall and can weight over a ton, can run 35 miles per hour?

The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has a web page that has fun facts about animals.  You can use the information to quiz your friends, or simply learn more about our fascinating world.  Here are some facts I found interesting.

Arctic ground squirrelWhen Arctic ground squirrels hibernate during winter, their body temperatures drop from 98.6° F to 26.4° F, which is the lowest known body temperature of any living mammal.  It’s even below freezing.

To prepare for hibernation, black bears eat mainly blueberries to help build fat.  When they emerge from hibernation, black bears  eat almost anything.  For breakfast they prefer new shoots and other tender vegetation.  Then after breakfast they ramble through a daylight buffet that can include dead animals, newborn moose or deer fawns, insect larvae, bird eggs, and small mammals such as snowshoe hares.

Red foxes will also eat just about anything, and will bury their food for future use.  They will dig up and inspect their supply sometimes just to make sure it’s still okay. 

Meanwhile, if you know anyone who “inhales” their food, they share something in common with deer which gulp down their food without chewing.  Instead, they crush their food against their palates and then swallow.

CaribouSome animals travel long distances, partly to find new food sources.  Caribou migrate over 3,000 miles each year.  If you travel to Alaska you will likely see some – there are more caribou than humans in Alaska!

To dispel a myth, porcupines don’t actually throw their quills, although when they shake their tails the quills easily come loose.  The quills are prized by Alaskan Natives for jewelry and decoration on clothing.  I enjoyed seeing some gorgeous examples of Alaskan handiwork at their Northern House during the Olympics in Vancouver.  The Natives will color the quills then use them as decoration on everything from moccasins to jackets to dolls.  Beautiful!

You can find more fun facts about Alaskan animals on the website.

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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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