Do Moose Hibernate?

 Ever wonder where Muskoka’s most iconic animals go in the winter? We do get a lot of snow, making it a fabulous place for winter play if you’re human. But what about all of our furry and feathered friends?

The Loon, perhaps the smartest of the bunch, heads south. Sort of. There are reports that Muskoka’s loons head…east. To the Atlantic Ocean. Or sometimes south to the Great Lakes. No Florida sun for these beauties. Maybe they're not so smart after all. Regardless, they head back to Muskoka in April, sometimes flying back and forth between here and their winter homes several times before finding open water to call home for the summer.

Moose, on the other hand, are perfectly adapted to living in our wintry northern wonderland. Their long legs make trekking through deep snow a breeze, although they often prefer to hang out in or near a forest where the snow isn’t as deep and there are lots of tasty twigs to munch on. The forest also provides cover from the heat of winter. That’s right, the heat. A moose in winter coat starts to pant if the temperature rises above -5C and they really don’t begin to feel the cold until the thermometer drops down to -30C.

Black Bears are the laziest of our local critters, spending 5-6 months of the year hibernating. They head for winter dens sometime in November and don’t emerge until April when the snow is well on its way to becoming part of the lake.

Raccoons are also on the lazy side, hibernating for a good part of the winter, often in family groups. If we have a warm spell, however, they will emerge from their dens to see what kind of havoc they can wreak.

Beavers, the most industrious of our local animals, build lodges that help to keep the colony warm in winter. They stash piles of wood in deep water near the lodge to sustain them through the winter. Underwater exits from the lodge allow them to swim under the ice to get to their food while keeping away from predators at the surface. They even store fat in their tails for winter energy.

Humans over-winter quite nicely in Muskoka, not by storing extra fat (although that sometimes happens), but by adding multiple layers of clothing and participating in a variety of both indoor and outdoor pastimes to stay warm. At Colonial Bay, you can relax in front of a cozy fire after a day spent playing in the snow. Muskoka has abundant opportunities for cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, skating and snowmobiling. If you’ve never experienced Muskoka in the winter, why not try it this year?

See you soon!

The Howell Family