From Xplor for Kids
December 2010 Issue

The 8 "Ates"

Publish Date

Dec 01, 2010

How do animals tolerate the winter weather that refrigerates the Show-Me State? Humans can relocate to cozy homes and wait for temperat ures to moderate. Wild critters aren’t so fortunate. It’s their fate to operate in winter’s freezing climate. But, wait. Animals have eight great traits to help them compensate.

  1. Congregate - When you’re cold, do you ever snuggle up with your family or friends? Animals do. Quail, ducks and geese gather together, or congregate, to keep cozy. Squirrels, raccoons and honeybees huddle up in hollow trees or other hidey-holes to conserve heat.
  2. Migrate - Many birds, such as this warbler, say “I’m outta here!” when winter arrives. They fly to warmer places where there’s more food for them to eat. Birds aren’t the only animals that migrate. Some bats, fish and even butterflies head south for winter, too.
  3. Terminate - Grasshoppers, mosquitoes and several kinds of spiders lay eggs before winter arrives. The adults die when the first hard freeze hits, leaving the babies to fend for themselves when they hatch the following spring.
  4. Pupate - Some insects ride out winter as a pupa (pyoo-puh). Think of a pupa as an insect’s teen years—a time when the baby bug changes into an adult. Lots of insects, including this Polyphemus moth, form a cocoon when they pupate. Some even have antifreeze in their bodies to keep them from turning into bugsicles when temperatures drop.
  5. Hibernate - A few animals treat winter like a boring movie—they sleep through it. Chipmunks, skunks and bears take long, deep naps during the worst winter weather. Bats, woodchucks and ground squirrels go even further— they hibernate. During hibernation, an animal’s temperature drops, and its breathing and heart rate slow way down. If your heart slowed as much as a hibernating ground squirrel’s, you’d never wake up!
  6. Excavate - Voles, mice and shrews excavate tunnels under the snow. The snow hides the furry mammals from hungry predators and acts like a fluffy white blanket, keeping the tunnel much warmer than the air outside. To see how toasty snow can be, build an igloo.
  7. Insulate - Critters don’t wear big puffy coats, but they have something just as good to insulate their bodies against winter’s chill: fur and feathers. Foxes and other mammals grow thick fur coats to keep them cozy. Birds fluff up their feathers to trap warm air next to their skin.
  8. Generate - We use electricity or burn natural gas to generate heat in our houses. Animals, including humans, generate heat from the foods they eat. For animals trying to survive winter, being overweight is great. Not only does extra fat help insulate their bodies, but they also can use the fat to generate heat.

Also in this issue

Photos With Nop and Dave: Frozen Moments

It takes an extreme photographer to capture extreme wildlife. Fortunately, Nop Paothong has the eye of an eagle and the stubbornness of a Missouri mule. Follow Nop’s advice to take great eagle photos.

You Discover

Get out to discover nature coming and going. Here are a few ideas to keep you outside in December and January.

My Outdoor Adventure

Snowflakes fluttered down as the Krumm family launched their canoes into the Current River.

Let's Go Rabbit Hunting!

Earlier that morning, Kelsey and her sister, Lindsey Jo, pull on their rabbit-hunting clothes. Rabbits love briars and brambles. To avoid getting chewed up, the girls tug on thick jeans and boots.

Outdoor Christmas

Check out these holiday goodies to get you outside.

Xplor More: It's Time to Make Snow Ice Cream

Need a good way to refuel after a long day of playing in the snow? Make some snow cream. Just follow the recipe below to make this easy, yummy treat.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole Leclair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Alicia Weaver
Cliff White
Kipp Woods

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