When it gets cold outside, us humans have many ways to keep the chill off. We have homes with heating, warm duvets on our beds, hot water bottles and big woolly jumpers. But what about those animals who are left out in the elements? Many animals have some really cool ways for staying warm.
Emperor Penguins get a pretty raw deal, having to stand and guard eggs while blizzards rage around them. Thankfully they have a special circulatory system in their feet and flippers and they will cleverly lean back onto their heels to keep their toes of the ice. Blood doesn’t flow through their tail feathers either so no chance of getting a numb bum! They are a considerate bunch too and will take it in turns to stand at the edge of the group, bearing the brunt of the blizzard before moving back into the centre to get warm again.
Macaque monkeys in Japan have the right idea and visit one of the country’s natural hot springs. They all take a dip and enjoy grooming each other in the lovely, warm waters before returning to the snow. They return every winter, almost like the monkey’s very own spa break. They have become a big tourist attraction but they still come back to the hot spring, despite all the media attention.
The monkeys love the warm water and when they sleep they often dream of having a lovely cosy home to retreat to with a warm fire, a large hot bath and Double Glazing Gloucester windows sourced from firmfix.co.uk which will keep the warm air in more efficiently.
Staying airborne is the choice made by the Alpine swift. They fly towards warmer climates in the cold months and are able to stay in the air for six months without landing! They feed on insects and spores found in the air and might catch the odd forty winks whilst gliding. When they get to the warmth, they have six months to rest and prepare for their next trip. Now that deserves some frequent flyer points.
Dogs and wild foxes can both grow thicker fur during winter months to increase their insulation. Whilst our beloved domesticated cats will often seek shelter under cars, due to the warmth still permeating from the engine. Other smaller creatures can sneak into our walls to pinch a bit of our heat.
Incredibly some creatures shiver just like humans with the aim of warming up. Bees shiver by vibrating their muscles while keeping their wings still. Shivering is most often seen in warm-blooded animals so it is strange that this is seen in Bees and even some snakes are said to shiver. Alaskan wood frogs have a really unique way of surviving the harsh winter in Alaska. They actually freeze. Thankfully, glucose in their blood stops their cells from freezing but their heart and brain stop. Technically the frogs are dead until spring comes and they hop back to life again. They are able to make their very own internal anti-freeze!
Hibernation and deep sleep are other methods found in the animal kingdom for dealing with winter. Some animals like bears can lower their metabolism without going into complete hibernation. They have the ability to lower their metabolism without suffering much of a drop in body temperature. Now that’s clever!