With winter fast approaching things are getting a little bit chilly in the West Country and the rest of the United Kingdom and many of our native mammals have started going into hibernation but do not despair there is still plenty to see.
Last change to see: Hedgehogs
With the decrease in insect and small animal life, as well as plant matter during the winter, animals such as the hedgehog, bat and dormouse need to hibernate to conserve energy and fat reserves so that they can survive until the spring. That said hibernation is always a last resort due to the huge dangers involved (floods, predation, or extreme cold) as long as there is still food about we will continue to see hedgehogs in our gardens and countryside.
Spot light on: Grey Seals!
The first seal pup of the season was spotted late September on the Roseland but now as we get later into November the majority of seal pup should have already been born and are starting ever so slowly to moult their snow white fur and are getting ready to be weaned. As an interesting evolutionary fact the white fur of baby grey speaks is thought to have been used as camouflage during the last glacial period (ice age) when their white fur would not only keep them warm but help hide them from predators. More recently however this stark colouration has made them too conspicuous attracting attention from curious humans. It is always important to remember to keep your distance from wild animals especially when they are with their young to avoid stress and abandonment.
In addition to mothers with pups we will also see territorial males (bulls) fighting for mates as female seals (cows) become pregnant soon after weaning their pups. Interesting grey seal gestation lasts for 11.5 months, seal pups are born at approximately the same time each year as seal cows are capable of “delayed implantation” where the fertilised embryo does not attached itself to the walls of the uterus for a period of 3.5 months.