What Do Huskies Eat in Antarctica

Husky Antarctica Cover

Although it may not seem like a reality now, Siberian Huskies were once used in Antarctic expeditions. These hounds possess a true pack mentality, which is seen as problematic in an urban environment, but it was an asset in the harsh climates of Antarctica, and there cannot be more extreme habitat for working dogs.

What Do Huskies Eat in Antarctica?

Before answering this question, it should be understood that Huskies are no longer present in Antarctica, nor they are native to this part of the world. They were brought here during the British Antarctic Expedition near the end of the 19th century, and why Siberian Huskies? Because, these pooches originated in the sub-zero temperatures of Siberia, and were used as sledding dogs. One interesting thing about Huskies is their coat, which is made up of hollow hair that insulates heat quite nicely, so much so that these hounds have trouble keeping cold, even in freezing temperatures, therefore, an ideal choice for such a mission. [1]Cool Antarctica

the British Antarctic Expedition ship dogs

A photograph of the ship as it was departing for Antarctica

History of the British Antarctic Expedition

17th of February 1899 is the date when the first-ever dogs were brought to Antarctica on the ship, Southern Cross. The ship was ashore at Cape Adare, with 75 hard-working Siberian Huskies. As soon as the crew was ashore, they were hit with a four-day blizzard, and seven crew members were trapped in it, and in Antarctica, that is a death sentence. They did set up a tent, but that is just never enough in wind chills below freezing temperatures, so to retain heat, they had Huskies lay on them for warmth, and they all survived.

Southern Cross ship

The Southern Cross

Sadly, one of the dogs was lost, after it was trapped on an ice floe, and drifted away. Fortunately, this only proved Huskies worth even more, as the lost dog returned after 10 days in optimal health condition. This showed that not only did that Husky swim in freezing waters but also ate something for 10 days.

Feeding Huskies in Antarctica

It is easy to understand that humans were eating rations that were brought along on the ship, but what about the 75 dogs? For them, the crew had stored dried fishes, which, at the time were thought to be an ideal source of fat and protein for these hard-working dogs. While their supply lasted for some time, the fishes were rotting, and soon they were inedible. So, what were these dogs eating to sustain themselves? Unfortunately, the answer is just grieving.

the British Antarctic Expedition Dogs

During the British Antarctic Expedition

Crew members had also packed nutrient-rich biscuits for the dogs, and these were healthy even by modern standards, but they didn’t have enough supply of these snacks. Huskies on the earliest expedition were heavily underfed, and they would rarely get a taste of human ration, therefore, to survive, they had to resort to eating their own excrement, and as expected, many of the dogs passed away during this cursed expedition. Quite a bizarre set of events, and it surely generates a feeling of hatred for those early explorers, but they did what they had to do.

Diet of Huskies after the British Antarctic Expedition

While this one and a half year-long expedition was brutal for these hounds, it paved the path for a better future for other dogs that’d visit Antarctica. By this point, protein-rich biscuits were getting stored in high numbers, along with dog food that won’t easily go bad. Furthermore, explorers were trained and equipped with tools to hunt penguins and seals, which were also used as primary food sources for Huskies in later expeditions.

Decrease in Numbers

Although humans continued exploring Antarctica, the number of Huskies that were brought along started decreasing. That was because of the invention and the ease of use of motor vehicles. Huskies required food, care, and attention each day during the explorations, whereas snowmobiles only needed maintenance once a month or even less, and by the 1960s, only a few Huskies remained in Antarctica.

The Antarctic Treaty

As you already know by now that Siberian Husky isn’t a native species of the Antarctic, and climate change led officials to a treaty, known as the Antarctic Treaty. It stated that all the non-native species must leave this region, and new species wouldn’t be brought here, so the last Siberian Huskies were taken back from Antarctica on February 22nd, 1994.


1 Cool Antarctica

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