Estherville Good Samaritan Society residents had a good chance to feel some fine, furry creatures Thursday.
Emmet County Conservation Board naturalist Jenna Pollock brought in a pretty good selection of animal furs - plus Emmet, a live turtle - so residents could get a good view of some of the creatures that inhabit our area.
Pollock focused her talk on hibernators and semi-hibernators, their habits and environment.
Emmet County naturalist Jenna Pollock shows skunk and possum furs to Halda Hanson and Marguerite Olson.
EDN photo by Michael Tidemann
True hibernators, said Pollock, start stockpiling food early in the fall. They are also able to lower their heart rate from 105 to 30-40 beats a minute. Creatures of their ilk include chipmunks and ground squirrels.
Bears, too, are able to slow their heart rate to half its normal rate. But they do awaken during their winter slumber.
Badgers, living in their underground sets, hibernate in their maze of underground holes and tunnels, sleeping most of the winter when they're not munching on an occasional tasty pocket gopher.
Skunks, not true hibernators, will wake up every couple weeks, waiting to come out in early spring.
Another hibernator, the possum, stores lots of food underground, eating vegetation and insects.
The raccoon also slows down its lifestyle in the winter.
True hibernators slow their body movements as it gets colder, borrowing into the ground and staying all winter. Due to their nature, they're able to predict when temperatures will start to change.
Unfortunately, some creates don't make it through the winter - Pollock said half of turtles and frogs die out over the winter.
If there is a true hibernator in Iowa, though, it would be the bat, said Pollock. You sure don't see any of those during the winter.