Winter Connection #9 – Animal Adaptations — Winter

A few more weeks of winter left – and here are a few more facts about how some species adapt for winter with changes in habits, changes in fur thickness or coloring and even changes in the composition of their blood.

JumpForJiveDark-eyed juncos can clear 12 inches in one hop! During winter, these little birds can be seen hopping along the ground for up to six hours a day foraging for high-energy snacks.

StiffSleepPainted turtle hatchlings produce a natural antifreeze that allows their winter survival. Ice crystals develop around, but not inside, their cells, freezing them solid and helping them to withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees F.

CircleofStrength — If attacked, muskoxen form a ring, face out with rumps pressed together. Their coats protect them from Arctic temperatures as low as -40 degrees F with two layers: an insulating inner layer eight times warmer than sheep’s wool and a long,coarse outer layer.

RoundRompCommon merganser ducks form monogamous mating pairs in late winter. The male displays his vivid colors and circles his love interest, and the pair mates while swimming. Often couples reunite in later seasons.

ColorChange–The snowshoe hare changes color from brown to snow white in winter. That way it blends in with the Canadian taiga, a harsh biome of deep snowfall and below-freezing temperatures for over half the year.

BigMama — Deepwater sculpin wintering in the Great Lakes breed in late fall and winter. Females can lay close to 500 eggs; larger females produce the most eggs. Sculpin young hatch as the lake ice begins to crack.

CozyCoat — The thick, soft fur of golden snub-nosed monkeys helps them survive the harsh winters of the Qin Ling Mountains of central China. Living in groups of 400 or more, these primates endure snows at nearly 10,000 feet.

BroadTrot –The unusually broad hooves of Arctic caribou aid them in walking on snow and ice. They use their antlers to expose edible vegetation.

BubbleBreath –The mudminnow‘s scientific name, Urbra Limi, is derived from the Latin umbra, “shadow” or “phantom,” and limi, “mud.” When their mucky homes freeze over, these fish survive by breathing air from bubbles trapped under the ice.

(Today’s information was taken from Chris Hardman’s Ecological Calendar 2013. )

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