During the winter months in northeast Ohio, snow isn’t the only thing that is white. When the snow flies…. some animals turn white too! Say what? As we all know birds, insects, and animals have different strategies when dealing with winter in northeast Ohio. Most birds migrate south, some insects bury themselves in the ground, some reptiles and amphibians bury themselves in the mud, some animals grow thick fur, and some hibernate. As it turns out, there are 21 mammals and birds that actually turn white in the winter. A few live-in northeast Ohio. At first glance one would think it is for camouflage, but it seems there is more to it than that. Conventional wisdom would dictate that if keeping the animal hidden in the snow was the reason for this coloration, more animals would be white during the winter. While white coats can provide camouflage in a snowy landscape, researchers have found a more practical basis. There is a theory that a light-colored coat may keep animals warmer. With less pigment in the hair shaft, there is room for more air, which traps body heat and provides insulation to the animal. The color change is thought to be at least partially linked to day length. As the days shorten, receptors in the eye transmit that information to the brain, stimulating the replacement of brown hair to white, starting with the extremities. The reverse is true in the spring as the days grow longer. The white fur is replaced by the darker brown fur. This is called molting. Birds go through a similar process each year prior to breeding season.