WOW! Local wildlife stay warm with these HOT TIPS!

Over the summer we wrote about looking to our animal neighbors for eco-friendly ideas to keep us and our homes cool. Now that we’re in the coldest months of Utah’s winter, let's look at a few ways to emulate nature in keeping warm!

Insulate your home. Many native animals spend the cold winter months in hibernation or brumation (like hibernation, but for reptiles). Unfortunately humans don’t get the luxury of going dormant for a couple of months every year. However we can follow their lead by insulating our homes the way animals insulate their burrows and dens. Packed snow and loose leaf litter or other plant matter act the same way as the insulation in your walls, by trapping warm air in small pockets. Investigate your insulation situation and consider adding insulation to unprotected areas like attics. Check windows and doors for gaps and cracks and seal them. Make sure that if your home has an evaporative cooler it is properly winterized and not letting cold air in.

Insulate yourself. A no brainer, right? Any and all animals that have to be out and about in winter have some kind of insulating coat. Fur and feathers work the same way as den insulation, by trapping pockets of warm air close to the body. While a few layers of man made materials may do in milder weather, animals still have us beat in the insulation department. A high quality coat that includes animal products like feather, fur, leather, or wool will be warmer, better for the environment, and will last longer than polyester. Second hand clothing is the most eco-friendly but if you can’t find anything used, look to online stores owned and operated by Native American people; these sources are typically less wasteful of animal parts, and don’t use harmful industrial chemicals or environmentally dam aging mass processing techniques.

Bulk up? Animals that hibernate build up reserves of fat that are slowly used for energy during dormancy. But recent studies of hibernating animals have shown that brown adipose tissue also plays a role in producing body heat without wasting energy like shivering does. Now, humans seem to lose most of our brown adipose tissue when we leave infancy, but don’t let that slow you down; you should definitely go for that third slice of cake. Just tell yourself it’s for survival.

- By Rhea Wilson