Saturday 3 December 2016

Animal dormancy: squirrels

I do like it when the leaves fall, and our skies open up. We've had rain, snow, sleet and hail, sometimes within the same hour. Once the leaves fell, I noticed this squirrel nest in the tree. Turns out it is a black squirrel. We have several. It sat in the sunshine for about 10 minutes, then ducked back into the nest.

We have lots of rodents! I was reminded that they come and go in winter. Many of our critters become dormant, if they don't migrate.

Animal dormancy: New World Encyclopedia
  • 1.1 Hibernation – heart rates can slow by as much as 95% (e.g., bears, raccoons).
  • 1.2 Estivation – like torpor, slumber, slow down of metabolism in summer (e.g., salamanders, squirrels).
  • 1.3 Diapause – deer (pregnancy), insects in winter remain as embryos.
  • 1.4 Brumation –cold-blooded animals (e.g., snakes).
  • 1.5 Torpor – diurnal metabolism slows by half.

The question is which ones hibernate?
Properly speaking, however, use of the term [hibernate] should be confined solely to warm-blooded homoiotherms—i.e., birds and mammals whose feathers or fur serve as insulation to reduce heat radiating from the body and aid in the maintenance of constant body temperatures, which normally are independent of those of the environment. 
I found an interesting reading comprehension passage, with questions, that explains hibernate and estivate, as the critters manage in our harsh climate in Canada. Our critters have choices: hibernate (sleep in winter), estivate (sleep in the heat), migrate. I think we need another word, as the tree rats are waking from hibernation on an irregular basis.
hibernate, estivate,
I'm finding that the critters are doing less hibernation, as our temperatures went from warmish to cold, to snow, and back to rain this November: precipitation. It's mostly melted. The critters have come and gone. It cannot be good for them. The deer need the cold temperatures to go into heat, and for the males to get any action. The females are only in heat for 24 hours.

Yet, the red squirrels, the black and gray squirrels, have been quite active. I haven't seen the chipmunks for a month, or so.


eileeninmd said...

Hello, love all the cute squirrels and chippers. I have only seen a black squirrel once. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
I know that in some respects they can be perceived as a nuisance... but really - how cute are they?!! YAM xx

Cloudia said...

Thank you for this informative nature walk!

Debbie said...

mr. black squirrel built himself a nice big nest!! our squirrels are gray and hang around and play in the yard all winter. i love when the leaves fall off the trees = easier to get pictures of the birds!!

Anvilcloud said...

I'm glad that it's brighter today. It's good for the spirit. But the animals must be wondering whether they're coming or going.

Jans Funny Farm said...

We used to have chipmunks that sat on our back steps so we could watch them, but then the dog pen was set up and the chipmunks moved on. We have an abundance of gray squirrels but we've never seen a black or red one.

Nancy J said...

A work of art to build a nest way up there, and then climbing up and down every day for food, to eat or store. I didn't realise they built nests, and thought they found holes in trees. Lovely photos.

Abraham Lincoln said...

The neighboring town where I was born and grew up Gordon, Ohio has a population of black squirrels. When I was a kid and lived there they had gray squirrels and Fox squirrels with the big bushy tails. I guess those are all gone.

Red said...

Hibernation is more complicated than just sleeping. Thanks for passing on the info.

Hilary said...

I do love squirrels and chippers.

In addition to hibernation and migration, there's also torpor which isn't quite the same as hibernation. Raccoons spend the cold months in that state.

William Kendall said...

I haven't seen a munk in a few weeks now.