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Animals: surviving in winter on the Alps

In winter, wild animals have to change their habits to cope with cold weather and food shortage. Animals living in the mountains have to do it before compared to other animals, because at high altitudes it can already snow in autumn.

– Hibernation: in the Alps, some species, such as marmots, bats, several rodents, reptiles and the bear, are not active during the winter;

– Moult and mimicry: non-migratory animals thicken their coat or change their colour. For example, the coats of the white partridge, of the ermine and of the mountain hare become white.

– Migration: some animals leave colder places to get to warmer ones. Birds migrate, but other animals, such as the deer and the chamois, move to lower altitudes in winter.

– Changes of life habits and social organisation: every living being in the Alps has developed a strategy, in order not to die. For example, some species modify their diet (fox), others modify their social behaviour (steinbock), and others reduce their activity (squirrel).

Winter represents a big problem for the fauna: the disturbance caused by human beings can indirectly lead to mortality. If we go to the mountain, we have to respect the fact that animals need quiet.

Filippo Zibordi
Associazione Teriologica Italiana

[Translation by Sara Covelli]

Stambecco. Photo: Filippo Zibordi 

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