5 Rocky Mountain Adaptors – Animals That Adapt To Winter

rocky mountain adaptors

A mountain goat with its thick winter coat.

Here are 5 rocky mountain adaptors, animals that adapt in order to survive the cold, harsh winters of the Rocky Mountains.  I wonder if you know all of them?

This is my third and final of three posts about different animals that use one of the three main strategies to survive winter.  Some animals hibernate, others migrate, and other adapt in order to survive winter.  The five animals that I am listing here all share the strategy of adaptation.  They may all adapt to survive winter, but there are different ways of doing so.

Adaptation As A Winter Survival Strategy

Adaptation is a winter survival strategy whereby animals change something about their behavior or their physical appearance to survive winter.  They still live in the same areas that they live during summer, but they have changed something in order to help them live in the snow and cold.

These animals, unlike hibernators, are not sleeping or resting out the cold, but remain active all winter long.  They are still actively looking for food.

rocky mountain adaptors

Photo of Ptarmigan via Flickr.

5 Rocky Mountain Adaptors

Mountain Goat – A Mountain goat adapts to winter in a similar manner as a deer.  It grows a thick winter coat that helps to keep it warm.

Snowshoe Hare – This small mammal has a different adaptation than the mountain goat.  Rather than grow a thick winter coat, it changes the color of its fur.  During the summer a snowshoe hare is grayish, brownish or reddish, but during winter it becomes white to blend in with the snow and hide.

rocky mountain adaptors

A clever red fox.

Red Fox – Unlike the previous two mammals that change something about their physical appearance, a red fox changes its behavior.  A red fox changes what it eats during winter and summer.  This is mainly because the red fox will eat whatever is available.

During summer a red fox eats mainly berries, grasses, and insects.  However, during the winter it will eat more small mammals.

rocky mountain adaptors

This is a tough little bird.

Black Capped Chickadee – This is the first of the animals I’m listing here that is not a mammal.  The Black Capped Chickadee, employs several different adaptations to survive winter.

First, it changes it diet.  During summer it eats mainly insects, but it will eat anything during winter.  Secondly, it grows new feathers at the end of summer that are like a new winter coat.  Finally, it will even go into a mild state of torpor at night, where it lowers its body temperature.

rocky mountain adaptors

A white tailed ptarmigan during winter. Photo via Flickr.

White Tailed Ptarmigan – Our final animal that adapts is another bird.  The White tailed ptarmigan lives in the high elevations of the Rockies and is mainly found in the Northern Rockies.  Similar to the Snowshoe Hare it changes it coloring during winter and summer.  In winter it becomes white to blend in with the snow.

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