Winter Wildlife

 Cold temperatures and short days are an animal’s main cue for hibernation. So the mild weather during the beginning of this year’s winter caused some to have a delayed slumber.

“If their body’s not getting the normal cues to hibernate, they may not enter full hibernative state. Normally their body, everything slows down, they can actually live off their fat stores, but if they’re sort of in that still awake time when they still can’t find the food resources that they need then they get into trouble,” said Willowbrook Wildlife Naturalist, Stephanie Touzalin.

The animals most affected were reptiles and amphibians, like turtles and toads, who typically sleep all winter. But many were still active into December.

While they may have had a slow start, hibernating animals should now be fully asleep until the spring.

“A lot of the wake up triggers are again the temperature and daylight, so they should wake up around the same time,” said Touzalin.

For other, furrier animals, hibernation is a little different.

“Squirrels, raccoons, skunks, while they may take kind of a few days sleep if its really extreme temperature or conditions, they do wake up when it’s a little bit nicer out so they can go try to find something to eat,” said Touzalin.

And since they aren’t hibernating, they are still searching for food.

Willowbrook recommends putting out some birdseed, or other food, to help them stay full during the winter months.

Touzalin adds, “Water is also a really important resource for them, in the winter it’s harder for them to find open water so putting clean unfrozen water out is a big help.”

Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.

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