|During the winter, animals must adapt to the lower temperature. Depending on their species, they may thrive in the cold, or they may need to find a place to hunker down until it gets warm again.
Every animal has certain adaptations that help them through the changes of the season. However, it’s not always a perfect process. Animals can still die from hypothermia. As temperatures plummet, it serves as a signal to animals that they need to get ready for the winter. Their nervous system is responsible for recognizing temperature changes.1
During this time, animals may have to eat more since it takes a ton of energy to keep their body temperature up at a normal level. Having enough food and fat stored gives them enough energy to keep them warm. Some animals can keep warm with blubber, which insulates their body.2
Other animals may have what’s called brown adipose tissue. This tissue releases energy in the form of heat, which is more efficient than shivering. Wildlife can also grow thicker fur to prepare for the winter, and animals with fur or feathers can trap air close to their bodies for more warmth.1&3 The outer layer of fur or feathers tends to be moisture-repellent, which keeps them safe from wet weather.2
Animals can also huddle together to keep warm. They may also burrow or hide in cavities to escape from the weather outside. Fish have special enzymes and proteins in their bodies that keep them from freezing in very cold water.1
Other ways animals may keep warm include:3&4
- Puffing up fur or feathers
- Isolating blood flow to specific parts of their body (like their legs!)
Depending on the animal, some are able to keep heat in so well that nothing escapes. Polar bears, for example, might not show up on night vision, because they don’t release any kind of heat, making them practically invisible on that tech.2
Animals will have adaptations that allow them to survive in their environment. For example, Kit Foxes are great at living in hot climates. Read here about how they do so!