Animal adaptations to handle the coldest of winters
Often a wool hat, mittens and the warmest of coats, still doesn’t seem enough to face the cold! Yet, many animal species cheerfully go about their activities even when temperatures dip below -30 C! How do they do it? These frigid weather experts have their own tricks and have adapted in unique ways to handle the coldest of winters without covering up with many layers of textile!
Fur … but especially an undercoat of fur!
Fur coats are known to keep us warm even in brutally cold weather. However, some animals, beneath their long hair surface coats, have another layer of short, very dense fur. This insulates their skin from outside humidity and helps them conserve their body heat; The arctic fox’s fur is so dense that it allows this species to conserve its body temperature even when outside temperatures drop to -50 o Celsius!
Careful with your extremities!
Since animals can’t wear a hat or mittens, it’s crucial for them to protect their extremities to avoid frostbite! Certain species might have shorter ears and tails, but more importantly, these parts are also covered with a dense fur. For example, the snow leopard has shorter, more rounded ears than its cousin, the serval, found in the African savannah. The snow leopard’s tail is almost a metre long and serves as a scarf that it wraps around its legs in frigid weather.
The rounder the better!
The bigger the volume of a body regarding its exposed skin, the better it can conserve heat; this is why Nordic animals seem to be larger and bulkier than their southern counterparts, which often have a more elongated shape. For example, a common seal is much more resistant to the cold than a sea lion.
From a biological point of view, humans are clearly not made for the cold; However, warmly dressed, the joys of winter are not to be missed!