What do wildlife do when it’s cold?

We know how the cold impacts us as humans – the insides of our noses freeze, our cars are slow to start, and the air inside feels dry and unpleasant. We bring our pets inside, suit up our dogs with booties and vests, and smear Vaseline on our roosters.

But what if you’re a critter that lives outdoors? Many animals enter a state of torpor. They slow down their metabolism and appear to be sleeping. Species have adapted to cold climates in other ways through the ages, through storing fat, growing additional fur or feathers, and developing arteries and veins in close proximity to each other – warm blood from the heart passes cold blood from extremities, and heats it up.

These adaptations even include fish. According to the Smithsonian, “Luckily, ice floats because water is most dense as a liquid, allowing fish to swim freely in not-quite-freezing temperatures below the solidified surface. Additionally, fish may lack the cold-sensing receptor shared by other vertebrates. They do, however, have unique enzymes that allow physiologic functions to continue at colder temperatures. In polar regions, fish even have special “antifreeze proteins” that bind to ice crystals in their blood to prevent widespread crystallization.”

If you want to help chilly wildlife this winter, there are a few things you can do! Click here to check out this post from Discover Wildlife for more information.

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