When temperatures drop in winter, most people stay indoors to keep warm. If you live in an area where it is very cold, you can wrap yourself in a warm blanket and have tea or hot chocolate. While you have a warm place to stay indoors, wildlife should find ways to keep warm outdoors. Deer are just one example. Have you ever wondered how deer keep warm in winter when it gets very cold and windy? Do they hibernate like bears, snakes and skunks? Where do they sleep in winter?
Get ready to learn how deer keep warm during the colder months, as well as other interesting facts about these majestic animals.
How do deer keep warm in winter?
These ungulate creatures are hardy animals that can withstand cold weather. In fact, biologists have discovered many different ways of keeping deer warm in winter.
In the fall, white-tailed deer and other species of deer consume increased amounts of food in order to add an extra layer of fat to their bodies. This is the behavior of many animals living in areas where it is very cold in winter. Along with consuming more food, these mammals begin to eat different types of food.
In the warm season, deer feed on grass, stems, leaves, twigs and other plants. These foods are low in calories and give reindeer the energy they need to thrive in spring and summer. With the arrival of autumn, deer add berries and nuts to the menu. Why? Since berries and nuts are high in calories, they can help deer quickly build up the layer of fat they need to survive the cold. They need to prepare their bodies for the season when food is not easy to find.
Keeping warm with a new coat
A special fur coat also helps the reindeer keep warm in winter. In autumn, this animal sheds its fur coat, which it had all spring and summer. It begins to grow a new, much thicker coat in preparation for the winter weather.
The design of this mammal’s winter coat depends a lot on how warm and dry it stays. The top coat consists of hollow guard hairs. When snow or rain falls on the guard hairs of the reindeer hair, the moisture simply slips off. This will prevent moisture from absorbing the wool. This is good, especially when the temperature drops rapidly!
The hollow guard hair of this animal also serves to retain heat near its body. If the deer were a home, its hollow guard hair would be insulation within its walls. Some scientists who spend time observing these animals report seeing thin layers of snow on the backs of several deer. The snow does not melt due to the hairline of the hollow guard hair. Animals just shake off the snow!
Its special wool absorbs more sunlight on winter days. Sunlight is filtered and warms the animal’s body.
Move less to stay warm
Like many other animals, the behavior of deer changes during the winter months. During the warm spring and summer months, you can see deer running, playing or eating in the field. In winter, their physical activity is greatly slowed down. The deer becomes less active, which leads to a slowdown in its metabolism. In fact, he reduces his activity level by fifty percent. When an animal’s metabolism slows down, it does not need as much food as it does with a normally functioning metabolism. This is useful especially when food is scarce in winter.
Looking for a warm shelter
Finding a suitable shelter is another way for deer to keep warm in winter. They look for places where cold winds are blocked and where they have cover from above. It can be in a coniferous forest or at the edge of a field.
Deer often stand under tall pine trees that have many needles to block the falling snow and rain. Or they might gather on a hill with a line of evergreen trees blocking the wind. They are more likely to choose a location that receives many hours of sunshine during the day. This place is sometimes called a deer yard.
There may be dozens or more deer in the deer yard. They are all here to protect themselves from the cold and to share the body heat of other deer in the herd. It is also likely that there is a large food source in the vicinity of the reindeer house. This is another reason why deer congregate here!
Deer are social animals, so it is not surprising that in winter or at any time of the year they are collected into a herd. The formation of the herd provides them with some protection from wolves, mountain lions, coyotes and other predators. When a predator approaches the herd, the deer begin to run. In this escape from the herd, the wolf or other predator may not be able to grab one of the deer from the herd.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Do deer hibernate?
No. This is a common misconception about these animals. While they do not hibernate completely, they certainly slow down their activity during the cold season. On especially cold days, the reindeer stay in one place and move very little to conserve their energy and warmth.
A deer that hibernates or falls asleep in winter is at great risk of being killed by a predator. On the other hand, the bear is a predator and does not put itself at risk when it hibernates for several months.
Do deer sleep while standing?
Answer: Sometimes. Like horses and sheep, deer can sleep while standing. I think about it. Deer must be constantly aware of their surroundings in order to spot potential predators. Thus, the ability to sleep while standing means that they do not need to get up before running away from an approaching predator.
They are also known to go to bed. They use leaves and soft vegetation as bedding. They are often positioned against a log or tree trunk for added protection. But just because they are on the ground does not mean that they are not afraid of danger. Before lying down, the deer looks for a way to escape and checks the air for odors indicating the nearest predator. If necessary, the deer can get up very quickly from the ground. Unsurprisingly, it only takes a newborn fawn ten minutes to get up and start walking.
Are deer digging in the snow for food?
Yes. However, the deer are looking for branches, berries and other food that are above the snow. The deer has to burn a lot of energy when it digs the snow, so it tries not to. Of course, this animal will dig in the snow in search of food before allowing itself to starve.
An elderly or sick deer may not have the energy or strength to dig in the snow for food. This is why many older people die in harsh winters.
Are deer more likely to be killed by a predator in winter?
Unfortunately yes. Since most trees or bushes have no leaves or other vegetation, it is easy for a predator to spot a deer. A large male deer, or buck, stands out very clearly against the white background of snow. Alternatively, it is better for reindeer to hide in spring and summer.
In addition, reindeer cannot run or jump as fast in deep snow. This can lead to its capture by a predator. In addition, the deer’s metabolism slows down in winter, so it doesn’t pick up speed or run as fast as it does during the warmer months. These are dangerous and sometimes fatal flaws in winter.
What is a deer yard?
The Deer Yard is a place where reindeer gather in winter to shelter from the cold winds and freezing temperatures. Reindeer yards are essential, especially in areas with very cold and snowy winters. Sometimes access to a reindeer yard with a food source nearby can be the difference between a reindeer surviving winter or not making it to spring.
Sometimes the reindeer return to the reindeer houses they used last winter. It depends on whether the environment provides protection and food. Fallen trees and lack of growth in spring and summer may mean that this is not the best place for deer to protect themselves. So, the herd moves in search of a more attractive hiding place.