Animals in the snow: the best photos


A very special shot of a cat playing with snow.

A domestic cat (Felis catus) sinks into the snow in Germany.

The same cat in the previous photo tries to get out of the white labyrinth in which he dived.

The sequence ends with a nice leap, to the conquest of a snowflake.

Photographer Steven Kazlowski was lucky to catch the dance of this hairy emulator of John Travolta. But it's not a ballet. The young polar bear caught dancing on the shores of the Alaska Split shoal in Alaska was actually just trying to find balance on its hind legs.

A cat that plays on the snow, strange but true. The cat of the photo, however, is "prepared". It is a Siberian that with its long and water-repellent hair, the long hairs on its legs and the sturdy body can withstand even low temperatures, snow and ice. Descendant of the wild cat that once inhabited Siberia, it is said that the Russian colonists used it as a guard cat, given its size (the male can weigh up to 12 kilos).

A tabby cat in the snow.

A dog barks from the porthole of a ship that climbs the Yenisei river in Siberia. The temperature at the time of shooting was -30 ° C.

"A man without a horse is like a bird without wings, " says a traditional Mongolian proverb. And indeed a very special bond is created between the nomadic shepherds of this country and their steeds. A new horse is among the first gifts a child receives, and having many is considered a sign of great prestige. Almost always left at liberty, these animals are spared from burdensome burdens and treated in every respect: after all, they are said to be the direct descendants of the fast steeds that allowed Genghis Khan and his army to build such a vast empire. In the photo, a herd of horses galloping through a region of Inner Mongolia (China), challenging a temperature of - 30 ° C.

See also a photogallery and a special dedicated to horses

A sheep with a snout full of snow. He didn't do it with snowballs, but by grazing the grass under a thin layer of fresh snow.

They withstand temperatures well below zero (even - 30 degrees), emerge unscathed from snow storms and plunge into icy waters, even swimming at 10 kilometers per hour.

Polar bears are certainly not chilly and all thanks to a particular structure that covers their body. The hairs of the coat as well as being water repellent have a concave structure that allows to retain heat. But it is not over, the skin of the bear under the white fur, is black in order to attract the rays of the sun and even below has a layer of fat about 10 centimeters thick. In this way the animal is isolated from the cold and drafty.

For the Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) snow is nothing new: they live in Antarctica, where even in summer (the "hottest" month is December) the temperature rarely exceeds -20 ° C. The winter collapse of temperatures coincides with the descent of the Sun over the horizon towards April. The record was reached in Amundsen-Scott with -82.8 ° C (23 June 1982) and in Vostok with -89.2 ° C (21 July 1983); the latter is the lowest temperature ever recorded.

However, this species of penguins prefers to nest in coastal areas that are not frozen in summer: they gather in colonies of about 200 thousand pairs, in which the females lay 2 eggs at a distance of about 2 days from each other.

In the picture, the rites of courtship begin

After the Christmas revelry of yesterday, a bit of movement is just what we need. This prairie dog (gen. Cynomys) took advantage of a few hours of sun to improvise some dance moves in the snow of Boulder (Colorado, USA). When they do not scamper in the open air these rodents spend their time in perfectly organized underground tunnels, with lots of nursery spaces for puppies, dormitories, toilets and workstations for observing possible predators nearby. The rooms for the little ones are placed farther from the surface, at a depth of 60-70 centimeters, as well as the "bunkers" in which to find shelter when there is an enemy nearby.

Two more beautiful pictures of prairie dogs (watch)

Look also at the funny squirrel dance

In the winter season it is very pleasant to relax immersed in a tub of hot thermal water, although not everyone can do it. Who really does not give up are the Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) of Jigokudani, in Nagano, which to overcome the long and harsh winters are immersed in the hot springs of rich water of which the area is rich (see also here).

Unique in the world, these macaques in the morning come down from the mountains where they spend the night to spend the day soaking in the warm waters, massaging each other.

But the baths at the baths are not the only curiosity of this species, also called "snow monkey": it has been discovered that they play snowballs for fun and, before eating, they wash the food. Really an animal that loves wellness!

Only two things can raise the 30, 000 spines of a North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum): the wind of a winter day and the presence of a predator nearby. When a lynx, a wolf or a coyote approaches, the mammal begins to chatter to scare the attacker. When the acoustic signal is not enough then it erects the fur while emitting an unpleasant smell. If in spite of everything, the enemy lashes out against him, worse for him, he will be stuck with spikes: once they break away from the porcupine's body, in fact, the long "bristles" penetrate the predator's flesh, deeper and deeper with each movement.

Is it true that hedgehogs hurl their spines?

Who has never seen a kitten roll around a woolen thread or run after a ball? Your puppy is training to hunt its prey (although perhaps it will never need it, given the constantly full bowl of croquettes).

However, the link between gambling and predatory skill is not so obvious. Paul Martin, from the University of Cambridge, has noticed that it takes very little to animals to become infallible hunters, a feature that is already innate and does not need any "training".

This fun then doesn't stop when age advances. It is not rare to see in fact adult animals playing with dead prey or lingering "cynically" with a dying girl, like this red lynx (Lynx rufus) unleashed with her lifeless prey.

It looks just like a popsicle. Instead it is a snowball that a small Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata) seems to enjoy eating. In reality, this species of monkeys feeds mainly on fruit, but in its absence it does not disdain leaves, flowers, insects and barks. His diet is in fact fundamentally regulated by the climate of the area in which he lives, the north of the island of Honsu, an inclement area, covered with snow for 8 months a year. To escape the harsh climate, the macaques are used to dive in the hot thermal waters of the area.

Focus number 136, on newsstands a few days ago, presents a curious photographic article on animal dinners: insects, lizards, frogs and sea lions … in the animal world all species can become food. Even the men.

With the cold of these days, everything is invented to avoid losing heat. These swallows, which for some reason have not embarked on a migration to milder destinations, have found themselves having to face a snowstorm along the banks of the Yukon River, in Canada. To survive, they squeezed into 24 on the same branch, regardless of discomfort. With ruffled feathers and the head bent over his chest, they managed to survive for a whole night overcoming the bad adventure. Photographer Keith Williams managed to get close to the birds, too cold to fly away. And it has captured the blue shades of the wings, which normally, when we see a swallow flying away, are not noticed.

Watch also the video of Molla, the owl that loves cuddles

More bird photos (watch)

This splendid specimen of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is grappling with the crossing of the icy waters of the Arctic, of which it scarcely fears low temperatures. This, thanks to the hair whose characteristics allow the bear to always remain sheltered from the cold, even during long swims. The insulating properties of its coat are given by the hollow structure of each individual hair: the internal cavity contains air that is not a good conductor of heat and constitutes a real barrier that allows the body's heat not to disperse. The polar bear is one of the most impressive mammals on Earth and can reach two and a half meters in height and weigh up to 800 kilograms.

If you see it with a slightly "frowning" expression, it is only because it is all focused on controlling what is happening beneath its branch. Gluttonous with worms, the European robin (Erithacus rubecula) is looking forward to someone, like a farmer or a big animal, moving some fresh soil to fly over the ground and stock up on his favorite snack. With the falling snow, unfortunately, it will be difficult for someone to take up gardening. For this reason, the winter bird diet - here photographed with ruffled feathers in an attempt to retain some heat - also includes a supplement of terrestrial vertebrates, such as spiders.

More bird photos (watch)

Four Papua penguins (Pygoscelis papua) seem to dance, with almost perfect coordination, in front of the goal of an American researcher in Antarctica. Unlike most birds, penguins migrate on foot. They are so-called gregarious animals: they tend to live in groups and the most numerous colonies can reach 50 thousand units. Sometimes they can give the impression of moving in synchrony, especially when they walk in single file. They do it to shelter from the wind.

Why do their legs, exposed to very cold temperatures (below -80 ° C) and resting for a long time on ice, do not freeze? Find out among the questions and answers.

Photo: © Tom Schonhoff.

A shake with the feathers and away. It takes little to this swan to dry off the snow. Of course he is used to it, but for us instead of living with the cold and the snow is a bit more complicated.

But, if it can console, the cold of these days in the Center-North is little thing in comparison to the cold of the winter of 1709. When a wave of frost from Russia in the night between 5 and 6 January, made to tremble (from the cold ) all of Europe. A bit like in these days the temperatures in some areas reached - 20 degrees, but with record-breaking peaks of cold, like the - 35 degrees in Berlin. And for almost a month the cold did not seem to diminish by freezing fountains, lakes and rivers. They even froze the Thames and the Po. The first, to the delight of Londoners, became a skating rink. While the second for a short period, it was even passable with carts.

Masterpieces sculpted by the cold (look)
Did you take photos in the snow? Here's how to send them to us

Already giving birth is not the maximum of comfort, let alone giving birth on an iceberg, or on a precarious arctic ice: the risk is that it can break at any moment, or that it goes adrift breaking any connection with the earth. Thus less and less are the polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in expectation that they choose to give birth to their young on the ever thinner ice. According to a study by the US Geological Survey, in fact, the percentage of mothers who prefer to give birth on ice instead of on earth would be just 37% today, compared to 62% in the 1980s and 1990s. But wherever they come into the world, newborns are welcomed with all care: the bears build small snow dens to protect their puppies from the cold.

The long-tailed weasel (Mustela braata), very widespread in the central-northern regions of the American continent, seems to come out intrigued by the thick blanket of snow, well disguised in its equally immaculate mantle.

Little social animals, which are encountered mainly for reproductive reasons and which do not tolerate the intrusion of similar animals in their territory, the weasels have developed a rather effective communication system made of sound, visual and olfactory signals. In particular, the females ready to mate give off an irresistible fragrance in the air for the males.

A camel (Camelus bactrianus) native to Asia is beating its teeth under the storm that struck the Zurich zoo where it is housed.

Almost all camels are now domestic animals, but in Mongolia, and in particular in China and the Gobi desert, there are a few hundred wild specimens, which is why it has been included in the IUCN red list of threatened species.

He seems to have come out of his nest because he felt the ferment in the air. It is native and this ermine (Mustela erminea) peeps out in the snow where it is easily camouflaged, thanks to the livery that in winter becomes completely white, except for the tip of the tail which is always black.

This mammal is a highly skilled hunter, who prefers the night for his jokes and who does not easily let the prey escape (small or medium-sized animals). In search of food, it can travel even 15 kilometers in one night: thanks to its agile body it moves quickly even through underground burrows. Much sought after for its fur, the ermine is no longer widespread, although it can still be found in Italy, in the Alpine area and in the Apennines.

Winter has begun and the animals have to face the most difficult days of the year. Some of them, however, do not fear low temperatures and are biologically equipped to withstand the elements. In their honor we inaugurated a series of images where animals are portrayed struggling with the cold.

The snowy owl (Nyctea scandiaca) in the photo is the largest bird in the Arctic and has feather-covered paws that serve to protect it from contact with frozen ground. Widespread above all in the tundra of North America, it is an excellent predator thanks to the ability to rotate the head (up to 270 °) which allows it to easily identify the prey in the territory.

To not end up under the teeth of polar bears, arctic or white foxes (Alopex lagopus) are supplied with a thick livery that in winter becomes as white as snow and allows them to blend into the thick blanket of snow. They are also provided with a thick layer of fur under their legs: some of them, in search of rodents or carcasses to eat, also travel more than 1, 000 kilometers on ice with temperatures reaching forty degrees below zero.

A harp seal pup (Pagophilus groenlandicus) rolls like a cat a few inches from the lens of Su Keren, an American naturalist photographer.

But despite appearances, the life of this small pinniped will be anything but easy: at only 30 days of age the mother will consider him adult enough to look after himself and abandon him among the Arctic ice (even the penguins don't go well: look here). To protect themselves from the cold, they will rely on the blubber, a thick layer of vascularized adipose tissue that warms the blood from the outer layers of the body and will minimize the body surface in contact with the ice, collecting the anterior and posterior fins under the belly.

In puppies the layer of insulating blubber is present from birth and increases in volume during lactation: the mother's milk seal is in fact formed by fat at 48% and allows the baby, which at birth weighs about 10 kg, to increase up to 2.5 kg per day.

Leoncini, tigrotti, fochine and monkeys: the charge of the puppies

Face to face with the leopard seal: an impressive video

10 Arctic wonders to save

The birds begin to deal with the branches from an early age, in anticipation of the construction of the nest. But also the Siberian tiger (Pantera tigris altaica) does not disdain some rapid evolution with an improvised stick. The greater the manual ability, the more the leisure activities involving the use of objects increase.

The chimpanzees, for example, have developed a termite hunting technique that consists in flushing them out of holes with the use of sticks: from an early age they begin to train themselves, even if the capture is unsuccessful. With time and practice, however, they perfect the procedure perfectly.

"The game with objects allows the animal to interact with the environment making experiences both with objects and with living beings, " the ethologist explains.

It will also be cold outside, but these two penguins holding hands … indeed, for the wing among the Antarctic ice they would also warm the icy heart. While the professional photographer Silviu Ghetie, from Romania, took photos of the surreal landscape of Port Lockroy, a natural inlet in the Antarctic Peninsula, a couple of penguins entered the target field and immediately turned to the reporter's attention. The two remained aloof from the rest of the group, in a romantic attitude, for a couple of minutes, before being interrupted by a "third wheel".

Don't miss the gallery dedicated to penguins

More spectacular photos of animals in love

The muzzle is completely covered with a sheep's snow.

Will this fisherman or cat who has taken refuge on his shoulder be colder? We are in Dalian, China.

This bird loves the cold indeed it is appropriate to say the polar temperatures … The males of this species of polar owls (Nyctea scandisca), which live in northern Scandinavia, in Russia and in northern Siberia, are monogamous and when the female is engaged in the hatching of the eggs (which lasts for about 30 days), the companions go to hunt and get food for the female too. However, polygamous behavior has been observed at times when there are many prey around and therefore food is more abundant.

They are very good predators: with their gigantic wings, which open together they reach a meter and a length of 70, they remain in the air in a point, quickly beating their wings and aiming at the unfortunate rodent. To then fall on him in the blink of an eye. A flying technique called "holy spirit" also used by other birds such as the kestrel and kingfisher.

A llama completely at ease in the snows of Bolivia. The high hemoglobin content in the blood allows this camelid to survive in environments with high altitude and low in oxygen, up to 4 thousand meters of altitude.

The snow is … the soft carpet ideal for the games of these puppies of southern sea elephants (Mirounga leonina), which keep each other company while the parents are busy in the mating season. We are in the South Georgia island, in the southern Atlantic.

In the snow the long legs of two cranes of the Manchuria (Grus japonensis) originating from Siberia.

A common crow (Corvus corax).

Adelia's Pygoscelidae (Pygoscelis adelia) play on the ice of Brown Bluff Island, Antarctica.

A five-month giant panda moves its first legs in the snow, in the Chinese province of Sichuan.

A rhinoceros tastes the snow with curiosity, with which it would not often have to do if it were not inside a zoo in Leipzig, Germany.

This curious little face belongs to a common wombat (Vombatus ursinus), a marsupial widespread in the coldest regions of Australia.

A red panda (Ailurus fulgens) ventures into the snow in the Chinese province of Sichuan.

A Golden Retriever puppy explores the feeling of playing with snow for the first time.

A white hare (Lepus timidus) in his winter fur runs in the snow: we are in Scotland.

The soft footsteps of a muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) on the snows of Quebec, Canada.

The first, harsh winter of two musk oxen (Ovibos moschatus) photographed in Norway.

The snow is not enough to cool the rivalry instinct of these two males of Arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), who struggle in the spring snows of Iceland.

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