If humans had to live in the wild during the winter months, many would probably struggle to survive. Some would thrive, but most would find the experience too challenging to excel in. They don’t have the same experience that some animals do of coping with these cold, snowy conditions year after year.
One wild animal you can expect to see still running around in the winter is squirrels. These creatures prepare for the colder season by fattening themselves up and hiding food in familiar places. This is so they have extra supplies to keep them going if what they have at their base runs out.
Thriving in winter doesn’t always mean that an animal wanders around acting exactly the same as in summer. Beavers can cope just fine when things get cold, but they do end up spending most of the time in their lodge. They have a storage supply in their tails, so food is never hard to come by, and a gland that produces oil. The secretions coat the fur and make it waterproof, meaning the wetter weather in winter is less problematic. They also – like a lot of animals – fatten up before the season hits, so they have that extra warmth to rely on.
In the summer, you might see white-tailed deer on their own or in a small pack. In the winter, though, you’re almost guaranteed to see them as a herd with the rest of their kind. This makes it easier to find food and trample the snow so that movement is safer for them. This behavioral change isn’t the only way these animals thrive when it gets cold, with the deer also developing thicker coats in winter. This keeps the heat in and the water out, ensuring that they’re able to cope just fine with the weather changes.
Gophers naturally spend most of their time underground, which proves to be an advantage during the winter. The rodents rarely surface during the colder months, instead using their time to build tunnels. Although they do slow down at this time of year, they’re still active, refusing to spend months sleeping like some other animals out there.
70% of cottontail rabbits reportedly don’t survive during the winter. The fact that only 30% make it might not seem like thriving, but it still amounts to a lot when you consider how many rabbits are born each year. Those that make it through the colder months do so by sheltering in warmer areas like garages and unoccupied holes. They also change their diet to bark, twigs, and even their own droppings to ensure they have a readily available food source at all times.
Winter might seem like the time when all the wildlife hibernates, but that clearly isn’t the case. While plenty of animals disappear for a few months, some continue operating as usual, albeit with a few lifestyle changes. These are the ones you can expect to see running through your backyard or amongst the trees when you go walking.