Florida has a milder climate than most other areas of the country, with hot summers and relatively warm winters, which makes hibernating animals a rarity in our area. Though there are many species of critters that hibernate all over the world, the raccoon does not. Their adaptable nature allows them to survive well during the colder months by changing their diets and seeking shelter. They also enter a behavior called torpor during the winter, which increases their ability to thrive.
Raccoons are natural omnivores, which comes in handy to them when food sources become scarcer in the winter. For most of the year their diet consists primarily of plants, eggs, insects, and garbage thrown out by humans; but during the winter they will eat acorns, fruits, and even small or crippled animals if available.
Increasing Fat Reserves
Much like how hibernating animals increase their food intake to build their fat reserves before going to sleep for the winter, raccoons plump themselves up in the months leading up to winter. Instead of being their sole source of nourishment though, these fat stores supplement the raccoon’s diet and make it easier to survive if no food is available for an extended period.
Shelter is important for all living creatures when winter arrives, and raccoons are no exception. They will build dens or seek shelter in hollowed out trees or buildings if the opportunity is presented to them.
Similar to hibernation in some ways, torpor is an energy-conserving state that raccoons enter during the winter. They can sleep in a curled up position in their den for weeks at a time which reduces the amount of food and energy needed to survive. When torpor occurs, the raccoon’s body temperature and blood sugar drop significantly to further reduce their body’s nutritional needs.
Raccoons sometimes wake up on warmer days to forage for food before returning to their den, and this periodic awakening allows them to stay more alert for predators.
Be wary of these critters seeking out areas of your home or property for protection, and if you do notice them, be sure to call a professional wildlife removal service like Critter Control® of Orlando right away. Call us today at 407.295.7194 with questions, or to schedule a raccoon removal consultation.