When animals put on their winter coats

Winter settles in silently. Temperatures drop, water freezes in places and edible plants become scarcer. The rules of the game have changed and mountain animals all have their own way of braving the cold and the freezing winds.

If you look up you will see lots of birds in flight migrating towards warmer latitudes, whereas on the ground lizards, snakes and amphibians are all slowing down. Further away brown bears are gently going into hibernation while groundhogs are curling up out of view for a very long nap.

What about those that stay active then? They are living proof of adaptation, the key word for survival in mountain environments. On the programme: fat reserves, building shelters and even changing their coats. Mountain hares go into camouflage mode, red foxes and the wolves add another layer, pyrenean mountain dogs and Arctic wolves get oily coats and Saint Bernards get black glasses, mouflons, ibex and deer get darker coats, pyrenean chamois put on their scarves, mountain goats get out their masks and deer get whiter. In short, when it comes to winter coats, high altitude animals are very pragmatic and creative.

To read the complete article and discover how each animal is braving cold, go on page 50 of the 10th issue of Hiking on the Moon!

 

Photo credit: Jéremy Calvo

bouquetin des Alpes - capra ibex_nov.2014-6

bouquetin des Alpes - capra ibex_nov.2014-9

mouflon méditerranéen - Ovis gmelini musimon_nov.2014-4

renard roux - vulpes vulpes_nov.2013

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