How Wildlife Survives in Cold Winters of Madison

What do animals do during the chilling months of winter in Madison to keep themselves warm?

Some animals survive these cold winters thanks to their coats. According to Professor David Drake, an Extension Wildlife Specialist, coyotes and foxes use their thick coats to regulate their body temperature.

A deer’s coat is different from a fox’s because its outer hairs are hollow. This allows them to absorb and transfer heat from solar radiation, heat from the sun, into their body.

Places such as evergreen forests or grasslands are commonly sought out by animals during the winter because they have pockets of warm air to block the wind. Another method of survival for animals is eating. Smaller animals like mice and meadow voles eat about double their weight every day. They have a large variety of food sources so they are constantly able to find things to consume. Other animals like bears, bats, and woodchucks get through harsh winters by hibernating.

We complain about the cold when we are outside for an hour, but an animal has to adapt and stay outside for most of its life. Animals have to endure harsh adaptation conditions to survive. Next time we see animals out in the wild, we should appreciate their abilities to adapt and survive.

[Sources: The Daily Cardinal; UW Urban Canid Project ]