Cozy Creatures: Animals That Hibernate And Their Reasons | Kidadl


Cozy Creatures: Animals That Hibernate And Their Reasons

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Were you wondering how animals go into a deep sleep without activity when you cannot stay still for even a few moments?

As soon as the winter months arrive, you start wrapping up in layers of clothes to fight the cold. Have you ever thought about how animals respond to the winter season?

Animals have several different ways to adapt themselves to the winter months. While some animals migrate to warmer regions, others hibernate. Humans would love the glory of sleeping throughout the winter but do not mistake hibernation to be as simple as going to deep sleep for months. Instead, it is a complex physiological state wherein, despite being inactive, the animals are undergoing specific changes.

The heartbeat and the breathing rate of the animals drop tremendously throughout the hibernation period. Animals that go into hibernation often during the winter are called hibernators. Although the list of animals that hibernate is quite long, some of the animals that dominate the list include bears, wood frogs, ground squirrels, garter snakes, box turtles, bats, bees, chipmunks, snails, hedgehogs, skunks, raccoons, opossums, marmots, and woodchucks. Animals are found hibernating in burrows, caves, cavities, wells, dens, or old mine shafts.

Hibernation, also called seasonal heterothermy, occurs in winter when body temperatures fall, accompanying a low metabolic rate, heart rate, and slow breathing. Although hibernation formerly referred to the deep hibernators, including rodents, the term was later adapted to include animals that utilized a similar mechanism for a shorter period.

During hibernation, animals conserve energy by decreasing their body temperature and metabolic rate and survive on the fats stored during the summer months for around six months. The hibernation period may range from days, weeks, and up to months. Imagine being in an inactive state and resting for long periods, just like these animals, no matter how much your parents may yell!

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about animals that lay eggs and animals that fly here on Kidadl?

Why do animals hibernate?

When it suddenly gets too cold or maybe too hot, you dress up accordingly to maintain your body heat. If it is winter, you put on layers of clothes, whereas you put off all those extra clothes in the summer. Unfortunately, animals do not have incredible talent like yours to stitch clothes for themselves. However, they also need to survive as we do!

While some animals migrate to a warmer region, other animals have adapted to living in a colder climate by going into a deep slumber, often called hibernation. During hibernation, their body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate, and metabolic rate decrease tremendously. Also, hibernating animals like wood frogs are known to stop breathing during hibernation. Animals work a lot before hibernating as they need to eat a lot of food to store enough fat for the hibernating period. While some animals hibernate for a few days or weeks, certain animals hibernate for over six to seven months.

It isn't that easy as you are assuming it to be! Hibernating does not mean a deep sleep or an inactive state; instead, an animal undergoes several changes. Imagine not eating for weeks or months. Can you survive without your favorite relishing dishes? The hibernators often do not eat and rather live on the fat stored. Also, before hibernating, animals build burrows, cavities, dens, or wells around their natural habitat to spend their next few weeks or months hibernating therein. While reptiles, amphibians, and several insects also hibernate, hibernation is closely linked to mammals. Similarly, several warm-blooded animals are known to hibernate, whereas a few cold-blooded animals like snakes and box turtles hibernate, too. Additionally, when male bees die during the fall, bees hibernate in a safe and warm place for most of the year.

Where do animals hibernate?

Animals seek refuge in a hibernaculum during the winter. A hibernaculum is not a specific place; instead, it describes various shelters inhabited overwinter by different hibernating animals like bats, bears, lizards, turtles, snakes, frogs, newts, lady beetles, and several more. A hibernaculum differs from one species to another.

While bears are found overwintering in caves, ground squirrels hibernate in a burrow hibernaculum. Other small-bodied mammals like mountain-pygmy possums overwinter in holes dug deep into the ground. Likewise, big mammals are often found in caves or dens, whereas small mammals survive in tunnels, burrows, holes, or cavities during the cold winter. Bats go into a state of reduced hibernation called torpor either when the food goes scarce or the temperature drops. During the state of inactivity, the bats are found in large groups in natural caves, cellars, mines, or natural and artificial underground structures.

Two young brown bear cub in the forest.

Which animals hibernate the longest?

Several species of animals that hibernate during winter have a varying hibernation season. While some animals hibernate for days or weeks, others seek refuge over many months. Also, not all animals hibernate in a true sense, as many wake up several times while hibernating. Hence, it is challenging to state which animal hibernates the longest.

A bear is speculated among the top hibernators, whereas animals like edible dormice and brown bats hibernate for more than 11 months.

Which mammals hibernate, and which is the biggest?

Several mammals are known to hibernate. Woodchucks, bats, bears, ground squirrels, chipmunks, hedgehogs, skunks, marmots, and fat-tailed lemurs are hibernators from the class Mammalia. Not all animals hibernate in the true sense and are often referred to as light hibernators.

Bears are one of the largest mammals recorded to hibernate. American black bears, Asiatic black bears, Polar bears, and Brown bears all hibernate, although the furry mammal does not hibernate in a true sense and is considered a light hibernator.

What do you call animals that hibernate?

Animals that hibernate in the winter are referred to as hibernators.

Although all hibernators do not hibernate in a true sense thus, they are classified as light hibernators. For instance, a bear easily wakes up while it is hibernating. Also, females give birth to young ones and nurture them but do not eat the food themselves and rather survive on the fat stored. Also, a bear is known to enter an inactive state called torpor or the winter sleep.

Animals That Hibernate In Winter

An animal that hibernates in the winter is a hibernator. Several species of the animal hibernate, maybe not in a true sense. They conserve their energy while their heart rate, body temperature, and breathing pattern decrease tremendously.

Various mammals such as a bear, bat, squirrel, chipmunk, and others, birds including the common poorwill, reptiles like turtles and snakes, insects like beetles and bees, and mollusks such as snails are some of the species that hibernate during the winter. Bees, in particular, hibernate when males die during the fall. On the contrary, snails hibernate during extreme temperatures, whether it is extremely cold or extremely hot.

Animals That Hibernate In Summer

The state of seeking refuge in the summer is known as aestivation. Thus, animals do not hibernate in summer and rather aestivate.

Several vertebrates and invertebrates like snails, beetles, crabs, crocodiles, salamanders, and four-toed hedgehogs are some of the animals reported to hibernate (aestivate) in summer.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals that hibernate, then why not take a look at Do tortoises hibernate? or Do spiders hibernate?

Written By
Gurpuneet Kaur

<p>As a skilled content writer, Gurpuneet has written and managed engaging content for multiple websites and companies. Driven by a passion for helping young people achieve their full potential, she brings a unique perspective to her work. She is currently pursuing a degree in Economics from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College Of Commerce. With extensive experience as a tutor, Gurpuneet has made a significant impact by providing guidance and academic support to students. Her dedication extends beyond tutoring as she has volunteered with Action India, where she offered medical assistance and educational aid to underprivileged communities. Additionally, Gurpuneet has contributed to the creation of student study guides for various educational agencies.</p>

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