Life in the Snow

Synopsis: Wildlife cameraman and television presenter Gordon Buchanan travels to northern Norway and the Austrian Alps to search for animals that have adapted to the snowy conditions and cold weather. The programme features polar bears raising their cubs, owls keeping their food supplies hidden under a layer of snow, penguins that huddle together for warmth, black bears battling against a storm and wolverines and ravens working together to find food. Gordon also takes a look at the lives of animals which are associated with Christmas, including robins trying to find food when the ground is frozen and reindeer, revealing the truth behind the story of Rudolph's red nose.
60 min


These are our planet's

winter wonderlands.

And the remarkable animals

that call them home.

I'm Gordon Buchanan

and, as a wildlife cameraman,

I've visited many of these

unique and special places.

But the animals that live in places

like this need to be resilient,

and many of them

are specially adapted

to make the very most

of these seasonal conditions.

I'm going to reveal

the extraordinary animals

that don't just survive, but

positively thrive, in the snow.

Oh, very, very cute!

Each has different and surprising

tactics to face winter head-on.

From the polar bear mother,

who spends seven months

without food and water

to give her babies

the best start in life.

To the fox, who can catch food

it can't even see.

And a seasonal specialist,

the reindeer,

and a surprising secret

behind that red nose.

Just how these animals

make these places their own

are amongst the most incredible

stories in the natural world.

I hope you've snuggled

up nice and warm,

because it's time to meet

the amazing animals

that spend their life in the snow.

Each year, up to one third of our

planet is transformed by snow

into a sparkling world

of wonder and white.

The animals who live here must

adapt to this dazzling change.

How they rise to the challenge

of living in the snow

is what sets each of them apart.

Our first animal is the world's

largest land carnivore.

They face the coldest temperatures

the Arctic has to offer.

But they seem to take it

all in their stride.

The polar bear.

Most animals couldn't live

this close to the North Pole.

But he appears

to be revelling in it.

In fact, the bears roll in the snow

when they want to cool down.

But how is it possible

to get too hot in the Arctic?

The polar bear has

the thickest fur of any bear.

But, it's the 11 centimetre

fat layer beneath the skin

that makes all the difference.

It keeps in the heat

like nothing else.

It works so well,

polar bears can swim for mile after

mile in the freezing Arctic Sea.

To maintain this vital layer,

they need to eat as much fatty food

as they can find.

The polar bears' staple diet

is seal.

But they spend most of their time

under the ice.

The bear can't afford a drawn-out

game of hide and seek.

His sense of smell is 100 times

better than ours.

Able to track a scent

from 20 miles away.

A bear can smell a seal

through a metre of snow.

A seal can be nearly 50% blubber.

He'll catch nearly one a week,

enough to keep his insulation

in top condition.

At this time of year, female polar

bears have a very different problem.

They have their cubs in the

depths of the Arctic winter.

A polar bear simply can't give birth

out on the Arctic ice -

with such small, vulnerable babies,

it is way too cold.

Down to minus 50 Celsius.

So, for a pregnant mother living

in such a cold and exposed place,

there's really only one place to be.

And that is underneath the snow.

It might sound counterintuitive,

but we can actually use snow

to keep us warm.

Within this lump of snow

is trapped air,

and trapped air makes

a fantastic insulator.

So, when you're in a snow hole,

or a snow den,

you could even get cosy.

And, when a polar bear is

underneath the snow like this,

the temperature inside can be an

incredible 30 degrees warmer

than the temperature outside.

And when she's hidden

in a den like this,

that's when something

truly remarkable happens.

Around the turn of the New Year,

across the Arctic,

under three feet of snow and ice...

..female polar bears give birth.

Then in early spring,

they emerge for the first time.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Life in the Snow" STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 11 Apr. 2021. <>.

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