Mountains and Mountain Animals

According to geologists, any landform which is higher than its surrounding landscape by at least 300 meters can be defined as a mountain. Other characteristics of a mountain include a high point called the peak, steep slopes, and local relief. Mountains are usually found in a series of ranges or chains. 

Mountains are formed when tectonic plates collide against each other, causing the land to rise. Some examples of mountain ranges are the Himalayas, Karakoram mountain ranges, Hindu Kush mountains, the Alps, the Andes etc.

The Mountain Ecosystem

Due to the high altitude and relief, the climate in the mountains is different than what is commonly found in plains. Moreover, the weather can also vary depending on the difference in height, location, exposure to the sun, latitude, etc. The mountains in the temperate region experience more seasons than their counterparts in tropical areas.

However, the climate conditions at the topmost level of mountains usually share the same features. These mountain features include - 

  • Less oxygen density. 

  • Less air pressure.

  • Lower temperature.

The variation in climate in mountain ecosystems is responsible for some of the richest biodiversity in the world. Very few mountain animals and plants are found at the high altitudes where the weather is extreme. 

The few that are found have adapted themselves specifically to survive the climate. Mountain animal adaptations include thick body furs to protect against the cold. Their hooves and legs are specially evolved to help them navigate slippery rocks.

Adaptation of Mountain Plants Include – 

  • Trees usually have conical shapes.

  • Leaves are narrow and needle-shaped. It helps them to save water.

  • Another unique adaptation of plants in hilly areas is that their seeds are attached to the surface of their scales in a cone-like form.

Coniferous trees like pines and spruces are typical examples of such mountain plants. 

At the foothills of mountains, where the temperature is moderate, vegetation such as temperate forest, scrubland, tundra is seen. Animals such as black bear, wolves, mountain goat, elk are examples of mountain habitat animals.

A Short Note on Mountain Animals 

Given below is a list of some common mountain region animals -

  1. Himalayan Bear – 

Bears are one of the most common cold mountain animals. There are two types of bears found in the Himalayan Mountains; these include the Himalayan brown bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus) and the Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus).

The black bears have a glossy black or brownish coat with a whitish mark on its chest. Its long neck and shoulder hairs serve as a mane. The brown bear is sandy or reddish-brown. The Asiatic bear is omnivores and spends the summer months in mountain forests at 11,800 feet. During winters, these animals descend to lower regions. 

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  1. Snow Leopards – 

They are found in high mountain ranges such as Siberian Mountain and the Himalayas. They have strong legs which help them to jump long distances efficiently. They have thick hair and a long tail which they use as body balance. They are shy animals and are spotted rarely.

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  1. Mountain Ibex –

These are wild mountain goats found in north-eastern Africa, Asia and Europe. They spend the summer in the snowy mountain regions and come down to lower areas in the winter. These mountain animals have grey to brownish fur and males have curved horns and beards. There are several types of Ibex such as Siberian, Asiatic, Nubian etc.

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  1. Marmot –

 These giant squirrels can be seen in the mountains of North America and Eurasia. They have thick fur all over the body, short legs, and strong claws to help them dig.

Marmots are vegetarian and feed on tundra vegetation and other mountain region plants. They accumulate food during summer and hibernate during the winters. 

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  1. Himalayan Red Panda – 

They are small mountain animals about the size of a domestic cat. They have a reddish-brown fur, long shaggy tail and short legs with thick hair. The red pandas mostly feed on bamboos, but are also known to eat eggs, birds and insect and prefer to hunt on their own. These animals are found in the temperate forests of Himalayas.

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The list given above includes only some among the many mountain animals and birds found in the mountain ecosystems around the world. To learn in details about more mountain plants and animals, go through the study materials on our website. You can also install Vedantu’s app in your smartphone to access the study materials anytime.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Why are Mountains Important?

Ans. Mountains are important since they are one of the most significant sources of freshwater. They also act as a barrier from harsh weather conditions.

2. What are some Common Plants Found in Mountains?

Ans. Some mountain region plants include cedars, pines, spruces. These usually have distinct characteristics that segregate them from plants found in other regions.

3. What are some Animals that live in the Mountains?

Ans. Examples of some mountain animals are bears, wolves, foxes, snow leopards, elks, yaks and so on. These develop distinct characteristics to survive in the harsh conditions.