Celebrations of Hibernations


A snowy winter finally arrived along the Cacapon River. The first snow that covers the mountainsides and riverbanks never seems to get old. We love going sledding and building snowmen with our families. But how about shoveling all the heavy snow, or waking up to an ice-covered driveway? Or when the below-zero temperatures kill your car battery? 

After weeks of frigid weather, the thrill is gone. We’re now impatiently waiting for spring—only 53 days to go, but who’s counting? And since you can’t actually hibernate through the rest of winter, we thought you’d like to hear about how three of our favorite animals avoid the winter blues along the Cacapon River. River Otters—Winter Adventurers

Our most favorite animal—the river otter—battles through the frigid winter months like the rest of us. They actually don’t save food for winter or hibernate to make it through. True to their charismatic and playful nature, these highly intelligent animals would rather keep things lively during the snowy months, frolicking along the banks and feasting on half-frozen bass and crayfish. River otters’ double-layered, insulating fur coat keeps their river adventures going all winter long. 

Black Bears—Lazy In Between

Though furry fattened bears are most associated with hibernation, the black bear technically does not partake. Yes, black bears are quite lazy in their dens during winter, sleeping for weeks at a time. Their body temperatures also lower a bit while they draw energy from their body fat—sound familiar? But this is also the time mama bears have their cubs, which is certainly no time for hibernating. In early spring, they emerge from their dens eager to make up for lost, lazy time. 

Wood Turtles—Amazing Sleepers 

Year after year, our first spring sighting of the wood turtle’s characteristic bright orange coloring makes us smile. This beautiful turtle hibernates over the winter months under the Cacapon River’s waters, usually beneath overhanging tree roots or logs, in shallow pools, or along the riverbed under the ice. Amazingly, a network of blood vessels that covers their bodies absorbs oxygen from the waters that flow over them—allowing them to “breathe” without using their lungs. 

Animals are just like us: some of them enjoy winter, some avoid it, and others find comfort in between. So which one is your winter spirit animal?