SIX WAYS ANIMALS SURVIVE THE COLD
How are all you fine folks? Perhaps getting a little more rest after the holidays, or maybe working extra hard to catch up? Lol! Either way, we come up with different ways to handle our environment.
And so does wildlife. I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel concerned for the wildlife when it’s really cold and snowy outside, or the opposite in summertime (or now in the southern hemisphere) when it’s boiling hot. How do animals cope with these environmental extremes?
1) Footwear: For cats that live in extreme cold such as the Arctic or the Himalayas, their DNA includes wide, spreading paws which enables them to walk much easier on top of the snow. Cats such as lynxes and the snow leopard have these traits and extra thick fur around and between their toes to help keep them warm and from sinking very far into the snow.
Some birds, such as the rock ptarmigan found ptarmigan in the arctic and far norther regions of Canada and in Iceland, England, Ireland, the alps of Northern Italy, Siberia and the Russian high arctic as well as other High Mountain areas have feathers on their feet that help protect them from the ice and snow. All “birds’ legs and feet are covered with specialized scales that minimize heat loss. Birds can also control the temperature of their legs and feet separately from their bodies by constricting blood flow to their extremities, thereby reducing heat loss.”1
2) Insulation—fatty reserves: The DNA of many animals that are exposed to ice water include a thick layer of fat. Thislayer of blubber keeps the cold out and heat in. Wild animals such as polar bears, whales, seals, sea lion and walruses are best known for this adaptation. Other animals such as marmots, bears, and even deer, antelope and birds will store fat.
3) Warm coats: Along the same line as fatty reserves, Most animals that live in temperate and arctic environments have layers of fur. Specially arranged different types of hairs/fur help keep the heat in. Warm air from the animal’s body gets trapped in the lower layers of fur while the outerlayer is usually long and able to whisk moisture away from penetrating to the inner fur and body by causing droplets to run down the hair and drip off the animal. The musk ox is a prime example of this. Bison, wolves, deer, moose, elk, mink, weasels, foxes and many other animals have this ability.
If you have any observation skills at all youall have witnessed birds fluffed out on cold days. This has the same effect as layers of fur, trapping a cushion of warm air against the bird’s body.
4) Hibernation: During hibernation, mammals seek the safetyof a den. Their heart rate and body temperatures drop, and their metabolic rate slow thus conserving the food and fat stored in their bodies. The North American black bear is famous for this. Mice, squirrels, hedgehogs, bats, many other animals and of course all reptiles have some form of hibernation.
|Group of lizards hibernating|
5) Antifreeze: “Some animals don’t have fur or fat or feathers, but they have a kind of
|Sea raven frozen in ice but still alive|
6) Making cozy shelters: Many animals make their own nests or dens where they can wait out the storms of an icy winter. Often these places are lined with grasses, twigs, conifer branches, fur and feathers. Anything that will give added protection. Even animals that don’t have a den make their own shelter by grouping together, putting their tails to the wind, seeking shelter under a tree or overhang, or just plain old hunkering down in the snow.
All these beautiful adaptations would have been placed by the Creator in the animal’s DNA during Creation week. When environmental pressures were pressed upon different species, the animals were able to adapt because the DNA was already in place.
I pray that all of you have adequate shelter this winter! Until next time, God bless and take care,
UpChurch, John, Kids Answers, Jan-Feb, 2018 (Vol. 13 No.1), Answers Magazine, Dale Mason Publisher, Jan. 2018.