In The Know Science

How do Animals Protect Themselves from Storms?

With stormy season upon us and frigid weather right around the corner, we humans seek shelter indoors, with provisions of heat, food (and wine!) to help us ride it out. Wild animals don’t have this luxury, yet have a keen ability to sense forthcoming changes in nature. They will instinctively hunt and forage before a storm’s approach to prepare themselves for any damage to their traditional food sources. Others will take the opportunity to seek higher ground. How each copes with impending weather depends on their breed, surroundings and resourcefulness.

Insects find shelter under leaves. Smaller animals, like squirrels, can hide in various spaces such as thick underbrush, in hollowed trees, or rock cavities, huddling together to keep warm. Smaller mammals and snakes will retreat to their dens or burrow in the ground. Deer, bears and other large mammals don’t mind light rain but will seek shelter for more severe weather. 

Fish and amphibians aren’t much affected by the rain, but they may retreat to deeper parts of ponds and lakes. Birds secrete oil from their uropygial gland, located near their tail. They use their beaks to coat their feathers with this substance, essentially making them waterproof. To retain heat, they’ll puff their feathers to insulate their bodies. Seafaring birds will fly into the eye of the storm where it’s the calmest and “fly it out.”

Hot for more? 

LISTEN: The Perils — And Unexpected Benefits — Animals Caught In Storms Experience

READ: Ready, Set….Wait! What Animals Do Before a Hurricane

Featured photo by Ian deng on Unsplash

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