American journalist and writer David Remnick recognized that nature can be “cold, wet, hard and unforgiving.”

All of the above describe the severe weather of the last few weeks. Temperatures and wind chills have been especially challenging for people and for wildlife. Most humans will manage the terrible temperatures by holing up in the warm house, putting on layer after layer of clothes, and turning up the heat.

Animals don’t have the same creature comforts or the ability to easily manage their environment, so they have to employ special strategies for survival.

There are the obvious ways to avoid the cold. Heading to warmer climes by migrating works for some birds (including snow birds). Hibernation is also an option. Sleeping off the cold weather seems more painless somehow than facing the deep freezes of winter. And dormancy, which is a temporary period of inactivity, can give animals a break, since those that use this adaptation have periods with little activity and limited biological functions.

Animals that remain active may or may not survive the season. Frostbite and hypothermia can affect wildlife, too, and animals can perish from severe weather conditions. Appendages, such as tails and ears, can be damaged and even lost.

Size matters when combating the cold. A smaller animal expends more energy than does a larger one and loses heat faster, because the surface area of its body is large compared to its overall size. Thus larger animals (with smaller appendages) are at an advantage.

Some creatures use chemistry. Consider that certain frogs have an antifreeze-like substance that keeps their bodies from freezing. There are fish that lack cold-sensing receptors and use proteins to prevent ice crystals from forming. Fish can also swim to warmer areas of the water and avoid the frozen surface as a survival technique.

Huddling and denning together also works for animals to conserve heat. Perhaps that is why we cuddle, for as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow explained: ”Love keeps the cold out better than a cloak.”

Mice, voles and shrews use that close quarters approach. They also take advantage of the snow to keep warm by creating tunnels below the snow’s surface. The snow acts as an insulator and the ground radiates heat upwards to create a cozy subnivian zone where these little mammals can be snug and warm. Though under the snow, these animals still are vulnerable, as they can still be preyed upon, since owls, coyotes, and others will dive into the snow to find and eat them.

Other mammals grow thicker fur, have hollow hairs or use thermo-insulating blubber to maintain temperature by reducing heat loss and increasing insulation.

Birds have a few of their own frigid favorites to conquer the cold. They can and do shiver, like us, and will also fluff up their feathers to trap air that acts as an insulator. Roosting with others or alone in trees and cavities can also be warming. And in another fascinating feat, look to their feet, which have arteries and veins designed in such a way as to reduce heat loss and increase heat gain — known as countercurrent heat exchange system — so they will never get cold feet.

A final strategy that sounds delicious is eating more. Putting on extra fat helps some animals get through the season. So don’t worry about that winter weight; it is an adaptation that helps all animals survive.

Bundle up, keep moving, stay close to others, get more rest, and have an extra helping on your plate. A perfect prescription of natural remedies to ward away the woes of winter.

Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown, and author of Martha’s Vineyard: A Field Guide to Island Nature and The Nature of Martha’s Vineyard.