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How Yellowstone Animals Adapt for Winter

a herd of cattle standing on top of a snow covered field

When winter rolls around, you snuggle up by the fireside with a blanket and a cup of hot tea. Or maybe, if you live in tropical climes, you enjoy a blessed break in the heat and sun yourself without burning to a crisp.

Whatever the case, humans and other animals are ready for a change of pace come the cold season. Unlike us, with our supermarkets and heaters, animals have it a little tougher, though. They rely on eons of adaptation to get through Jack Frost’s reign. Here are just a few of their best strategies.

Traveling in Herds

Many animals travel in herds come winter, even though they may range more independently in warmer months. This protects against both cold and predators.

Hair and Fat Growth

Lots of mammals grow new, thicker hair in winter. This helps them stay warm against the biting chill. Others supplement by growing fat to pad out their bodies, adding an extra layer of thermal protection, and protecting themselves against lean times. Still others turn white in winter to help them blend in with the snow and either avoid predators or being spotted by prey!


Many animals migrate to deal with harsh winter weather. Birds, insects and fish may travel long distances, for instance, to go where the food is richer and climes are less frigid. Many animals only travel short distances, however some go as far as a hundred miles away to seek richer pastures or forests. Our animals here in Yellowstone, such as elk and bison, tend to move to better foraging grounds in winter (which means we know where to look for them!).


Other animals just go to sleep. Think bears, which curl up in their caves and snooze the cold months away, slowly burning their fat stores. When they wake up in spring, skinny and ravenous, they’re ready to face another year! Squirrels and small mammals take a less severe approach, storing fall bounty (nuts, berries and so forth) to munch all winter long.

Bottom line? Animals do lots of “cool” things in winter (yeah, we went there). If you’d like to learn more about them and have a chance of seeing some of our favorite wildlife, all you have to do is get in touch with Scenic Safaris today!

Wondering how Wyoming’s animals spend the winter months? Here’s a little look at their sneaky tricks for surviving the cold months!