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This musk-ox is taking a break in the snow.
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Tundra Herbivores

There are so many interesting mammals in the tundra, they had to be divided into two groups! You can read about carnivores here.

Musk-ox and caribou are the largest herbivores in the tundra region. Both can grow to over 600 pounds! Musk-ox stay in the tundra all year long. They have very thick fur that protects them from the harsh winter weather. Scientists aren't sure what category to put musk-ox in. They are sort of a combination of sheep, goats and cattle.

Musk-ox have a unique way to defend themselves. They travel in groups of ten to thirty. When they feel threaten, the adults gather in a square with the young in the middle. With their horns facing out, these large animals can protect themselves from carnivores.

Caribou look more like an overgrown deer. They travel back and forth between the warmer forests and the tundra. In the summer they grow soft antlers, which help them release heat. By the end of summer, these antlers turn hard and are used for fighting. Finally, by mid-winter the antlers fall off.

There are plenty of little herbivores around as well! Lemmings look like really big rats! They come in all different colors. Lemmings are very important to the tundra food chain. These animals reproduce very quickly. One mother can have as many as 50 babies!

There are many, many more herbivores in the tundra. Reindeer and some species of goat roam the lands. Hares and porcupines wander around looking for food. Wherever you go, you're bound to see some neat animals in the tundra!

Last modified September 11, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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