How animals prepare and survive the winter coldness is kinda amazing. While we can simply wear thick coat or sweater to keep our body warm during winter, animals can’t do that. Instead, they found many possible ways to survive winter. It becomes one of the animal’s culture. One of them is actually similar with human’s way when they face winter, wearing thick coat!
Fall actually the busiest time for any animal. They can sense that the winter is ready to stumble they over, so they began the preparation for the worst. There are no animals that prepare exactly the same way. Some of them changing the daily routines, some of them start stocking up, some of them start to eat a lot! I mean, a lot!
Basically, there are 3 main techniques on how animals prepare and survive winter coldness, which is migration, adaptation, and hibernation. Of course, for pets, you can decide whether it is too cold for them to go outside or not. But, for wildlife animals, they’re pretty much on their own.
Have you seen geese flying toward south in the shape of V? That’s the cue for you that the winter is coming. Not only geese do that though, caribou and some types of deer are also making journey to the south during winter. So are whales and some kind of fishes, too. This is the smartest way, though, they don’t even to cope up with the extreme coldness. However, the long journey can be exhausting, too.
While there are many animals heading to the south, why do we only see geese heading to the south? The geese become the most obvious since they have this famous pattern of flying. The pattern is special for two reasons. One, it helps them reserve some energy. Secondly, it helps them to keep track of their friends. Aren’t they cool to take care of each other that way?
While geese continue their journey until they reach south, some of the birds sometimes taking some rests in certain places. They will gather there by thousands, just to eat and shed their feathers. And in another winter, they will be back to the same spot.
Wildlife is pretty exciting. I think Amazon forest with all the wild creatures will be an interesting place to watch animals’ movement.
Migration is the smart choice to avoid winter, really. Not only the animals don’t have to struggle among all the thick snow and the extreme coldness, they can enjoy the warmth of the south. Even though migration seems like the best choice, not every animal is capable doing so. Instead, they are focusing to adapt into the extreme weather.
There are many adaptations that animals do. One of the example the way duck molting.
Snowshoe hares, weasels, and ermines are examples of animals that change their fur. In summer, their fur will usually go reddish or grayish brown. This fur will turn white during winter. It helps them to camouflage themselves among the snow, so the predators can’t find them.
These animals don’t go hibernate during winter. Instead, they will gather foods as many as possible and bury them in the hole. So, when the winter comes and food supplies become rare, they can eat them to survive the winter.
Mice and beaver are doing it also. They will stock up foods in their houses, so they don’t have to go out during winter. Honeybees will eat the honey they made during spring and autumn, so they will also save from the harshness of the winter.
Not only wildlife animals that do this adaptations, even house pet like a dog also has adaptation for themselves!
This is also the fun way to run away from harsh reality; sleep your troubles away. While many animals become very busy stocking up their food hole or their houses for winter, some animals stocked up their stomach. Grizzly bears are one of the examples. They will eat as much as possible to add more fat into their body, so their body will survive winter.
They have few stages to hibernation, though. As early as spring comes, they need to eat around 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day. Despite the early stage, they still need to accomplish it to have successful hibernation. Second stage is hyperphagia. Let’s say, excessive eating. They need to eat 15,000 to 20,000 calories each day.
After this eating process is done, their metabolic process start changing as they prepare to hibernate. In this stage, their heartbeats will get slower, and bears start to eat less, even though they’re still drinking normally. Thus, the hibernation is start.
Not only bears, bats and groundhogs are also the animals which hibernate during winter. When the temperature is going down, bats will start to climb up into chimneys, attics and rafters, to find any crampled places to hide from the predator during winter. Also, the secluded crampled place will give them warmts they need during winter.
Meanwhile, groundhogs will dig down deeper, so they can keep warm under ground. The most fascinating is, they actually build some complex structure of hole underground. And when they start hibernating, their body temperature will go down lower than 20 celcius degree. This also true for moles, they will dig down deeper and hide underground during winter. But, they don’t hibernate like groundhogs.