Do Raccoons Hibernate? What They Do in Winter
As temperatures drop and winter begins to set in, many animals undergo adaptations to survive the harsh conditions. Raccoons certainly capture our curiosity, those masked bandits that roam our neighborhoods in search of snacks, but what do they get up to in the winter? Let's investigate how they survive the colder temperatures and answer the question: do raccoons hibernate?
Do Raccoons Hibernate?
Raccoons don't hibernate in the winter in the traditional sense, but they do enter a state of torpor, similarly to hummingbirds. Torpor is a deep sleep that allows them to conserve energy during the winter.
As opportunistic omnivores, raccoons have a varied diet of foods, many of which are available the whole year round. They do, however, need to hide from the elements when it gets particularly cold, and when food is much more scarce. It's at these times that they're likely to enter into a state of torpor.
What Do Raccoons Do During the Winter?
When the temperatures aren't too cold, raccoons may be out and about finding food to eat. However, when temperatures drop low enough, they'll head into their dens to stay warm and enter a state of torpor to conserve energy.
Prior to the start of winter, raccoons will increase their food intake to build up an extra layer of fat. The extra fat will help to keep them warm during the winter, and also helps them to survive when food is more scarce or when it's too cold for them to venture out of their warm dens.
What Do Raccoons Eat in the Winter?
As opportunistic eaters, similarly to the rest of the year, raccoons will eat whatever food they can find during the winter. However, as access to certain foods will be more limited during the colder months, they tend to live mainly on foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and berries at this time.
Where Do Raccoons Live in the Winter?
In order to stay warm during the winter, raccoons look for dens that will provide shelter from the elements, as well as a space that's safe from predators such as bobcats, coyotes, and cougars.
Places raccoons tend to use as dens include tree cavities, caves, underground burrows, and of course they can end up inside people's homes including in attics and crawl spaces. Similarly to Great Horned Owls who often steal the nests of other creatures to avoid having to build their own, raccoons are not afraid to steal the warm den of another animal to save themselves the effort of making a new one!
Raccoons are generally solitary creatures, but during periods of very cold weather, they may share a den with other raccoons for warmth.
So, while raccoons don't hibernate in the winter, they employ various methods to survive winter conditions, including building up fat reserves in the fall, foraging for available food during warmer periods, and entering a state of torpor to conserve energy. Stay warm during the winter with our raccoon apparel! Each order placed at BeCause funds the planting of trees and helps to support ecological nonprofits. Shop all nature designs today!