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How Do Deer Stay Warm In The Winter:[Hibernate?]

Animals out in Mother Nature do not have access to the amenities that humans enjoy throughout the year. During the winter, you rush home and turn on the heater so you can get warm. Squirrels, rabbits, bears, and deer do not have access to these conveniences. Instead, they’re required to adapt to the environment to ensure that they’re able to survive the harsh winter months. How do deer stay warm in the winter?

Deer stay warm in the winter by searching for food to ensure that they’ll be able to make it through the winter. While it is possible for deer to find food almost anywhere, they prefer sticking with easier food sources. This is why they’ll seek out oak and hickey trees. Both trees provide the animal with their preferred food which will be acorns. Of course, you should know that this depends on the environment.

You may suspect that deer hibernate. Some animals do so they can sleep throughout the winter and wake up during the Spring. This is not the case with deer. They do not hibernate. However, they will seek out suitable shelter when they’re ready to sleep.

It is common for deer to sleep under conifer trees. They do this because the trees are perfectly suited for this purpose. With conifer trees, the branches are going to be dense and closer to the ground.

When the deer gets underneath the branches of a conifer tree, they’re going to be shielded from wind and snow. In return, this ensures that they’ll be able to remain warm during those cold winter nights.

[Related Post: Types Of Deer In Alabama]

The End Of Breeding Season And The Hunt For Food

How Do Deer Stay Warm In The Winter


Deer follow a precise cycle. Before winter rolls around, they’ll go through a breeding season. Once the breeding season has concluded, the deer will begin focusing on their survival.

If you’re able to find cornfields close to the area, there is a good chance that deer will be there. Deer are smart enough to choose food sources that are going to be convenient. If they’re able to access cornfields without much trouble, they’ll eat corn throughout the winter months.

Deer may consume winter wheat too. It is common for some areas to turn brown before others. If this is the type of environment you’re looking at, you should look for greener grass. The deer will stick in these areas as long as possible.

[Related Post: Why Do Deer Freeze In Headlights: [The Truth]

Numerous Changes

Ultimately, deer are going to change immensely to prepare for the winter. They’ll change their coat and their metabolism. During this period, the deer will reduce their metabolism and begin living off of their fat storage. This ensures that they’re able to go survive for several weeks without having to eat.

It is common for deer to fast for a few weeks without experiencing any harmful effects. They’ll also develop a winter coat. This ensures that they’re able to remain warm without much trouble.

This combination gives the deer the ability to make it through the winter without much trouble.

Sedentary Behavior

Another thing to note is that deer will change their behavior during the winter. During the summer and spring, it is common for deer to be out and about throughout the day. They’ll run around trying to find other deer to breed with. They’ll also go out there and find food. During the winter, they’re going to become more sedentary.

They will stay put more and move around less. Since they’re exerting less energy, they do not have to eat as much. Once they’ve discovered a warm location, the deer will remain there for a longer period.

The deer’s activity levels will decrease significantly and they’ll move around less frequently. This requires less energy and that means they will not have to eat as much or as often.

A New Coat

How Do Deer Stay Warm In The Winter


During the winter, there is a good chance that you’re going to wear a cold. A good one will keep you warm even in the coldest conditions. Deer do something similar. They’re not going to go out and buy a coat.

They’ll shed their light coat and grow a much thicker one. The heavier winter coat will feature a dense underfur and hollow hair shafts. Another thing to note is that deer are equipped with unique skin muscles.

This makes it possible for them to manipulate the angle of their hair shafts. By doing this, they’ll be able to develop the best insulation.

The new coat will help the deer stay warm during the winter. When they combine that new coat with the aforementioned methods, they will have little to no trouble thriving through the winter months.

Survival Is Not Guaranteed

Unfortunately, it is tough to know how harsh the winter is going to be. From time to time, portions of the United States will experience a mild winter. This makes it easier for wildlife to survive. However, there are times when the winter weather is far worse. The winter of 2007 fits into this category.

During this period, North Dakota and eastern Montana were hit with heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures. Sadly, the weather was too much for the deer. As a result, the weather killed many deer in these areas. With that being said, survival is not guaranteed.

If it gets too cold, there is little the deer can do to survive.


Deer are smart creatures that know how to adapt to the environment around them. Before winter arrives, they’ll begin searching for the easiest and most convenient food sources. After that, they’re going to change their behavior completely. They’ll develop a winter coat and begin relying more on their fat storage.

They’ll also find thermal shelter so they can remain warm at night. A deer in good health can easily fast for a few weeks without experiencing any harmful effects. Suffice to say, deer can change their behavior and bodily functions to ensure that they’re able to make it through the winter.

Brian Koller

Growing up on a farm in eastern PA, I’ve grown fond of wildlife and the woods and learning about the critters and firewood and everything else in-between. I made this site to share my experiences and knowledge.

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