Animals that hibernate

  •  Wednesday, October 4th, 2023  Animalsforkids

    What is Hibernation?

    When an animal slows down its heart rate to save energy and survive the winter without eating much it is said to be in a state of hibernation. Some animals just retard their movement during hibernation, but there are animals who go into a deep slumber and don’t wake up before start of spring. In the state of hibernation the animal’s body temperature dips, and its heartbeat and its breathing retard so that it doesn’t need much energy. Some hibernators go into such a deep slumber that they appear to be dead and waking them up is next to impossible task!

    Hibernating animals prepare themselves for their winter nap by eating noticeably extra food and storing it as body fat which they then utilise as energy while sleeping. In the course of hibernation, if the temperature dips too low, some animals wake up slightly and warm up a bit by shivering. Hibernating animals may also wake up for a short span every few weeks to relieve themselves and eat a little food if available.

    Which animals hibernate?

    Various kinds of animals hibernate, from reptiles and mammals to amphibians and even insects. Bears are well known hibernators, but they hibernate only if they are inhabiting in a habitat with cold climate. Bears that inhabit in warmer climates, such as the sun bears of South East Asia don’t hibernate at all as they have access to abundant food all year round.

    In the UK, hedgehogs, bats and dormice are the only three mammals that truly hibernate by spending entire winter season sleeping. They hibernate from October or November in current year to April or May the next year. Many people have wrong perception that squirrels hibernate, but they are actually incapable of putting on sufficient body fat to survive all winter without food. Squirrels get ready for the winter by hiding food during the autumn months, so that they don’t go hungry during the colder months. They have very good memory and remember where they have hidden their food!

    Some tortoises hibernate, including pet tortoises. It is very true that the temperatures inside a house can be kept warm, but still it is a very bad idea to keep pet tortoises that are hibernators by nature awake during the winter season. Some fish, turtles and frogs, which lack any way to keep warm during winter, shelter under rocks, logs and fallen leaves in the water. As the weather gets unkinder, they go to the bottom of ponds and lakes and some even burrow into the mud.

    Some insects, such as bees are also known hibernators. Honey bees huddle together in their hives to stay warm during winters, while burrowing bumblebees dig a tunnel in the ground and crawl inside to spend the winter.