A snow leopard stands dusted with snow in Hemis National Park, in India, a popular spot for enthusiasts to catch a glimpse of the elusive cat. To survive the cold, snow leopards are insulated by their thick fur and have large nasal cavities that warm air before it enters their lungs.
- Hostile Planet
These animals thrive in extreme mountain conditions—here's how
It’s steep, it’s cold, and there’s little food, yet mountain habitats support a wide range of animals.
Mountains are unforgiving habitats. With low oxygen levels, scarce food resources above the tree line, and extreme weather, animals at high elevations must maintain a precarious balance with the elements to survive.
Animals that thrive in hostile mountain habitats have developed certain adaptations. The snow leopard, regularly found at elevations between 11,400 to 16,400 feet, has a genetic adaptation that enhances its ability to absorb oxygen into the bloodstream.
Mountain hares change color depending on the season for camouflage: white fur for the winter and a light ginger coat for when the snow has melted. Mountain goats too have thick white coats during the winter—for warmth and for camouflage—that they shed during the summer.
Other mountain-dwelling species like geladas, monkeys that live