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Friday, November 11, 2011

Where Do They Go in the Winter?

I hate snakes and I'm glad to see that guy who hangs out on an old abandoned dock I frequently paddle by is gone for the winter. I like turtles, but they're gone too. And no fish are jumping. Where do these guys go in the winter?

Fish: Unlike the following critters, fish slow progressively down and stop eating as the water gets colder and they head for "the deep." They are cold-blooded, so their bodies are the temperature of the water. Should the fish "blow it" and become frozen solid in the ice, they will usually thaw out later and survive.

Frogs and toads: Leopard frogs and bullfrogs typically head for mud under deep water that doesn't freeze. Green frogs burrow under debris at the bottom of the lake. Their respiration slows down and they go into a state of dormancy. The produce a type of glucose in their bodies that essentially allows them to freeze for the winter. Toads, burrow into mud for the season.

Snakes: They burrow down in places like large decayed tree root systems, beaver lodges, caves, wood piles, and  rock crevices. Sometimes hundreds or thousands of them hunker down together in to hibernacula -- hibernation dens below the frost level. I'll be avoiding any hibernacula I come across.

Turtles - Most turtles burrow under mud at the bottom of the lake, while some simply lie at the bottom, remaining motionless and experience a rather lengthy period of meditation.

Black Bear and Cubs in Hibernation
BBC Wildlife


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