Do Any Animals Have Babies in Winter?

As we have talked about before all animals main goal is life is to survive, which includes having babies.  This means that animals have their babies at the time of year that gives them the best chance of surviving.

For the majority of animals that means timing it so that they have their babies when the there is the greatest abundance of food resources – meaning the springtime.  When we think of spring time we think of new plants growing and babies – baby birds in nests, baby coyotes and wolves…and baby bears emerging from their dens (?)

Wait a minute.  That is a scene that is familiar to most of us – bear cubs emerging from their den in the springtime with their mother.  The cubs were not just born in the springtime, but were born during the winter.

There are very few animals that do have babies in the winter and bears are one of them:

mammals black bear sowBears – They spend the winter in a  den hibernating.  Females will give birth to between one and three babies during this time.  The females will nurse (feed their babies milk) their babies while in the den over winter.  When the babies are first born they are tiny and helpless – they are blind and weigh one pound.  By springtime, when food is abundant, the baby bears are able to waddle out of the den with their mother.

Amazing Fact About Black Bear Reproduction

Black bears mate in the springtime, but the females do not actually start to grow the baby in their belly until the fall.  This is because of a special thing the females have that makes sure that they and their new babies can survive.  All bears must have a lot of food reserves in order to survive a long hibernation.  But, pregnant and females with babies need even more food reserves to survive hibernation.

In the fall if the female has put on enough reserves of food her body will allow her to become pregnant and begin to grow the babies.  But, if she has not eaten enough food, then her body will simply not allow her to grow new babies and she will not become pregnant.

mammals red squirrelSquirrels – They mate and then give birth to their babies around February.  They live in a den, which is oftentimes located inside of a tree cavity.  The newborns are very small and helpless.  They will stay in the nest with the mother, who feeds them milk for 7-10 weeks.  Once they are big enough to survive on their own they will leave the nest, which usually happens in early spring (April/May).

**Notice – both baby squirrels and baby bears are born practically helpless.  They are both born blind and very small.  They use the time in the den with their mother nursing (eating milk) and growing larger.  Then, by the time spring has arrived and there is food abundant in the natural world the babies are bigger and ready to wander around more on their own.  So, in fact it appears that being born in the winter as opposed to the springtime actually gives the baby bears and squirrels a better chance to survive than if they were born in the spring and had to spend the first couple of months nursing from their mom.