North Woods Field Guides PO Box 107  Wevertown


Nature Lover's Newsletter

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Thank you for stopping by. We hope you enjoyed your visit to North Woods. 

This month's articles

Frostbite

Hibernation

Snowcaves

 

Frostbite     


   Frostbite is caused by the restriction of blood circulation due to extreme cold. The beginning of frostbite is not necessarily painful but is seen by telltale white spots. Cheeks, nose, and ears are the most vulnerable. Always keep ears covered and wear a facemask in below-freezing weather. It helps to "make a face" to stimulate circulation
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To treat frostbite, slowly warm the affected area by holding a warm, bare hand against it. Keep moving, find shelter, or build a fire - but do not sit too close to the fire. Rapid thawing of frostbite can cause inflammation and even gangrene. Rubbing frostbitten flesh may damage frozen tissues. Never rub snow on frostbite. Never drink alcohol to warm you up - alcohol restricts blood circulation. Drink some other non-alcoholic hot beverage instead.


                                        
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Hibernation  

Many small and medium-sized mammals in north-temperate regions solve the problem of winter scarcity of food and low temperature by entering a prolonged and controlled state of dormancy. True hibernators, such as ground squirrels, groundhogs, and mice, prepare for hibernation by building up large amount of body fat. Some, such as the groundhog, also lays in stores of food in their burrow. Entry into hibernation is gradual. After a series of "test-drops" during which the temperature drops a few degree and then returns to normal, the animal cools to within a degree or less of the surrounding temperature. Metabolism is greatly reduced. In the ground squirrel, for example, the respiratory rate drops from a normal of 200 per minute to 4 to 5 per minute, and the heart rate from 150 to 5. This means that the body slows down In most hibernators, the body temperature is closely checked by internal systems. If the body temperature drops dangerously close to the freezing point, the animal will awaken. The hibernators also awaken at irregular intervals to eat and eliminate wastes and then return to sleep.

Some mammals such as bears, badgers, raccoons, and opossums enter a state of prolonged sleep in winter with little or no drop of body temperature. This is not true hibernation. Bears of the northern forest may sleep for several months. Their heart rate may drop from 40 to 10 beats per minutes, but their body temperature remains normal and the bear is awakened if sufficiently disturbed.Mammals are not the only hibernators. There are several other animals such as the toad and frog that survive winter by hibernating.

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Building a Snowcave

  

   A snow cave is very similar to an igloo but instead of being made out of blocks of snow, a snow cave is hollowed out of a snow bank. Snow caves are faster to make than an igloo and the only tool you will need is a shovel. Choose a location with a steep hillside and deep snow. Your roof must remain at least 2 feet thick after your cave is completed. A snow cave is made up of three parts, the main cavity of the cave, the entrance hole and a ventilation shaft. The smaller you can keep the entrance to your cave, the warmer the cave will stay. After hollowing out the cave, use the handle of your shovel to add an angled ventilation shaft to the roof of your cave. Last, you will want to compact and smooth the snow walls to turn the inside layer to ice. As long as your ventilation shaft is not blocked you can use candles or a lantern to light your cave and provide additional warmth.

                             
                                             
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North Woods Field Guides PO Box 107  Wevertown


North Woods Field Guides
PO Box 107  Wevertown, NY 12886
Phone:  518-744-6011  Email: northwoodsent@aol.com

Copyright J. Greco / North Woods Guides Inc.  All rights reserved.