Danger to local wildlife?
In recent years, temperatures have been relatively warm in the winter months. However, the mild winter lures many animals out of their hibernation earlier or prevents them from going into hibernation at all. The wild boar sometimes even have their first offspring. But how great is the danger if another cold snap is imminent?
Mild winter: danger for the local wildlife? – Image: Shutterstock / Pesat Jaroslav
The average temperatures of recent winters were often above zero – climate change is evidently in full swing. The result: nature wakes up much earlier than usual from its hibernation. This can be very confusing for the local wildlife, sometimes even harmful.
Mild winter ensures early offspring
In recent years, the first piglets have sometimes been sighted as early as January, which are normally not born until March. Due to the mild winter months, deer are also planning their families earlier. As long as the temperatures do not drop again, there is no danger for the early wild boar offspring and the fawns. On the contrary, the population can even grow explosively. But if there is still a drop in temperature, many of the young animals can die of cold death.
Danger for butterflies and other insects?
Butterflies like the Lesser Tortoiseshell or the Peacock Butterfly usually hibernate in the warm interiors of human dwellings when temperatures are cold. A mild winter gives them the illusion of an earlier start of spring, so they venture out of their winter quarters before their usual time. However, they still do not find enough food, so many of them starve to death. The same fate also threatens bees, who are tempted by the warm temperatures to leave their hive earlier.
Squirrels don’t mind a mild winter
However, the mild winter is less of a problem for other animal species, as they are adapting well to the changed conditions. Squirrels don’t really hibernate anyway and wake up from time to time to look for one or the other nut. But they shouldn’t do this too often, otherwise they won’t have enough energy for the whole winter.
For hedgehogs, newts, toads and frogs, which normally hibernate in the cold, the mild winter only becomes a problem when the temperatures suddenly drop. In some cases, they do not succeed in withdrawing back to their warm winter quarters quickly enough, so that some of them can freeze to death.
What the mild winter means for the birds
For some birds, the mild winter even turns out to be a blessing: they find plenty of food in fields that are not frozen, swans do not have to fight frozen lakes. Some species – for example cranes – no longer even overwinter in the warmer south, but stay in Germany. But the same applies here: The danger looms when winter strikes again with all its might: Those who are already courting and building nests have only a small chance of survival – at least if the migratory birds don’t decide to travel to the warmer south after all decide.
Mild winter for pets: possible risks from ticks
Unfortunately, a mild winter is also a blessing for unloved animals such as ticks. They find many hosts in the unexpectedly warm temperatures and therefore multiply particularly strongly. In addition, the parasites wake up earlier from their cold torpor to go in search of food. This means that dogs and cats sometimes have to be protected from the annoying beasts as early as December and January.
If your pet suffers from a pollen allergy, the mild winter can also cause problems. The plants also start flowering earlier when the warm temperatures suggest that spring is coming sooner. If your pet is allergic, symptoms may appear earlier as a result.
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