March and April may be two of the snowiest months in Colorado, but they are also the months when wildlife in Colorado begin to wake from their winter slumber.
Food can be difficult to find during our cold Colorado winter months. As the temperature begins to rise and plants begin to come back to life, animals of all kinds begin waking up and looking for food. Bears are best known for their winter hibernation. During the winter, a black bear can lose up to a third of its body weight. Here are some interesting facts about Colorado wildlife and their springtime habits.
- The coat of the snowshoe hare changes from white in the winter to brown in the summer. Short tail weasels also molt their brown fur for the winter.
- Canadian geese fly south for the winter. South for them? Right here in Colorado!
- Several species of bats migrate from Colorado to Mexico for the winter months, while others, like the brown bat, huddle together in large groups and keep each other warm by snuggling together. It is critical for the well-being of these bats to leave them alone in the winter as they can easily starve and freeze to death if disturbed. Bats are great at eating insects during the summer, making our job a little easier during the summer heat.
- Many small rodents, like mice, voles, and some species of prairie dogs, stay active year-round. Mice will look for a warm winter location. This means you are more likely to get mice in the house during the winter. That doesn’t mean they will leave when spring arrives, especially if they found a sustainable food source.
- Garter snakes are winter hibernators. Read out article about animal mating habits to learn more about the unique mating habits of these snakes commonly found in backyards and parks across Colorado.
- Raccoons and skunks do not hibernate; however, they go into a deep sleep to conserve energy. It is about this time of year when we see them becoming more active and on the hunt for food. Warmer weather also means your trash will have an increased smell and attract these little guys.
You can imagine how hungry many animals are after a cold and sometimes harsh Colorado winter. This sometimes leads to people feeding wildlife. They think it is helping the animals when really it is very harmful for the animal and dangerous for you.
When wildlife view humans as a source of food, they come around more often. It is for this reason, those in Manitou Springs and anyone west of I-25 in Colorado Springs is required to have a bear-resistant trash can or to keep their trash indoors to prevent bears (and other critters) from enjoying your leftovers.
Most baby animals are also born in the spring, which means lots of protective mamas. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) gets countless calls each spring about “abandoned baby animals.” More often than not, these babies have been left in a safe place by their mother as she gathers food. Experts suggest you leave the baby animal alone. You can keep an eye on the baby and if the mother does not return within 24 hours, it is best to call CPW. DO NOT handle the baby on your own.
Mama animals look for safe places for their young. Unfortunately, sometimes these spots are your attics, under your porch or even in the walls of your home. Trying to remove them on your own can be dangerous.
We live in a beautiful state, filled with awesome wildlife watching. But, let wildlife be wild. And keep in mind, if you find your home has become a wildlife bed and breakfast, give us a call.