It's that time of year again. The cold weather is blowing in and many of our local furry friends will be looking for a den to nestle down in for the winter season. Hibernation is an important part of the cycle of a mammal's year, a phenological stage.
Some animals, like raccoons and opossums only enter a "mini-hibernation" called Torpor where they sleep for short cycle and wake to find food when the temperatures rise. Animals do this because their metabolisms are so fast that they burn up their reserves too quickly to sustain a longer hibernation period.
To learn more about which animals hibernate click here.
Because animals aren't as lucky as we are to make a home furnace and flannel sheets, they need to be resourceful and use the plant life around them to survive the cold winter months. Many animals rely on trees, caves, and burrows to stay protected, which is why it is so important that we work to conserve the wildlife around us for these animals all year round, but especially during the winter.
You can do your part in helping our Indiana wildlife rest well by being aware of you potential impact on their sleep environment. One of the most harmful things to a hibernating animal is being woken up too early. Our noise level: be it car alarms, loud parties, or just disruption near an animal's den, can potentially lead to a hibernating animal waking up and exerting too much energy before they can replenish during spring. So, let's be cognizant of our behavior around wooded areas this winter, even though it might look dormant, there is still plenty of life thriving under the snowy surface.
For more information on hibernation disruption click here.