Download Flash Player

What Makes a Mammal? Hair & Fur

What does hair do?

A lot! It keeps us warm and dry, helps some of us hide, and enables some of us to feel our way around. Hair can even send a warning or serve as a weapon. Take a closer look at the different users of hair.


The porcupine erects sharp quills-modified hair-to defend itself when fleeing isn't an option.


The chinchilla has very thick fur that keeps it warm in thd cold, wind-whipped Andes mountains of South America.

Clouded Leopard

This spotted fur of this clouded leopard breaks up its body outline and helps it hide as it waits for prey.


The walrus relies on its sensitive whiskers to feel for food in dark, muddy waters.

River Otter

The river otter has dense, water-repellent fur that keeps it warm and bouyant in chilly waters.

American Mink?

Yes! The mink is definitely invited. It has luxurious hair that keeps it warm, even in cold water.

© Smithsonian Insitution