7 Animals Who Know Just What To Wear For Winter
As the mercury drops and the weather turns snowy, soon folks all around will be reaching for their warm winter coats, scarves, and caps. But humans aren't the only ones whose outfits change with the seasons.
Here are seven winter denizens for whom winter comes with a change of wardrobe. And just like every year, white's all the fashion.
During the year's warmer months, the snowshoe hares of North America's northern regions don a rather unimpressive brownish color to match the earthy hues of their wooded habitat. But as the first snows begin to fall, these bland little bunnies undergo a remarkable transformation, blending in beautifully to the white winter world around them.
Snow leopards are perfectly equipped for life in the rugged high-altitude ranges of Central Asia, their striking spotted coats acting as the perfect camouflage with which to sneak up on their prey, no matter the season. During summer months, their fur takes on a greyish-yellow hue to match the stark, rocky mountainsides. But once winter comes, their coat changes to a shade more befitting of their namesake flakes.
For feisty, yet petite little animals like stoats, sitting somewhere in the middle of the food chain, blending into the background is as much about avoiding being prey as it is about sneaking up on their own. Fortunately, nature has bestowed upon them a dramatically different look depending on the season. When winter rolls around, their sparse brown fur grows thick and snowy white, leaving just their black-tipped tails unchanged.
Though many animals take on a white coat when the season calls for it, perhaps none embrace it more fully than arctic foxes. Although during summer months these fluffy foxes sport a two-tone brownish coat, when winter weather descends upon the chilly northern tundra, there is nary a tuft of hair on their bodies that doesn't turn a pristine shade of white to match their snowy surroundings.
Things might seem rough for collared lemmings in the arctic, being bite-sized animals at home in a region where predators are always on the lookout for an easy meal. Lucky for them, they have just the right thing to wear to improve their odds - a white winter coat for concealment for when they scamper across the snowy landscape. Though other rodents do live in places where it snows too, collared lemmings are thought to be the only ones to dress in camouflage for the occasion.
When cold weather hits, most birds prefer to pack it up and head down south rather than face the wintery chill. White-tailed ptarmigans, on the other hand, don't just tolerate the arrival of snow, they actually change their feathers completely to welcome winter's arrival. In fact, these are the only birds in North America who are permanent residents in the alpine north, living full time high in the mountains above or near the timber line.
Like other types of reindeer, Peary caribou inhabit some of the coldest, most inhospitable regions on the planet, far in the north where winter temperatures regularly dip well below freezing. When the snow begins to fall, their greyish brown coats can turn totally white. Other caribou subspecies transform their coats to some degree too, but none quite so completely as Peary caribou do.