SUCKING PAWS—An old hunter told me that there are a number of animals that suck their paws in winter and do not eat any food. How can they live without eating?
Yes, some animals den up during the winter and do not eat for long periods, sometimes for the entire winter. The bear hibernates in this way, and I am told sleeps most of the time. It is said that the fat which they accumulate during the summer and fall nourishes them and takes the place of food. You have, no doubt, noticed that coon, skunk, etc., were very fat when caught in early winter but after severe weather these animals if caught toward spring are poor. As per sucking their paws, that is a story without foundation, but is generally accepted. Many other animals, such as the badger, coon and skunk, den up for a long time and do not eat. Reptiles are torpid, like dead, the entire winter, and do not eat.
Harding, A.R.. 3001 Questions and Answers. Columbus, Oh: A.R. Harding, 1913.
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