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12 Things You Didn't Know About Hibernation

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Thu, Jan 18, 2018

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A metal building from Alan's Factory Outlet can help protect your valuable items from the winter weather.

Do you ever wish you could go into hibernation when temperatures drop below zero outside? Unfortunately, hibernation is not an option for people, but there are many animals that hibernate to survive the cold weather months. This week, I have some facts about animals and hibernation that may surprise you.

  1. During hibernation, the body temperature of an arctic ground squirrel goes from 99 degrees Fahrenheit to 27 degrees Fahrenheit. These squirrels hibernate for about eight months out of the year to deal with the freezing cold weather in Alaska.
  2. Hedgehogs estivate as well as hibernate. Estivation is very similar to hibernation except that it occurs when the weather is extremely hot. Do you think hedgehogs ever get confused about which season they're in?
  3. Some animals hibernate, while others go into torpor. Torpor is also known as light hibernation, typically only lasting for a period of hours. A decrease in food availability and ambient temperatures are two conditions that send an animal into torpor. Alternatively, hibernation is brought on by reduced hours of daylight and an animal's hormonal changes, and it lasts for days at a time. Some examples of animals that hibernate include frogs, woodchucks, and some types of bats. Bears, raccoons, and hummingbirds are creatures that go into torpor during the winter.
  4. Both an animal's heart rate and its body temperature decrease during hibernation. For instance, a woodchuck's heart rate drops from 80 to 4 beats per minute! Furthermore, its body temperature goes from 98 degrees Fahrenheit to 38 degrees. A black bear's heart rate goes from 50 beats per minute down to about 10 beats per minute during light hibernation. However, its body temperature changes very little. A black bear's normal body temperature is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, while its temperature during light hibernation is about 88 degrees. When a bat goes into hibernation, its heart rate drops form 400 beats per minute to 25!
  5. There are some types of fish that hibernate. One example is the Antarctic cod. This fish buries itself in the seabed for days to survive the tough conditions of an Antarctic winter.
  6. An American black bear can give birth to cubs while she is in light hibernation. But do not try to sneak up on a mama bear, even if she is hibernating. Bears have a way of knowing if a predator is approaching even during winter sleep.
  7. Animals that hibernate have an internal monitor that lets them know if their body temperature is dropping too low. If it does, the animal awakens and shivers to raise its body temperature.
  8. Snakes are known to hibernate together to create more warmth. Hundreds or thousands of garter snakes may crowd together throughout the winter.
  9. The North American wood frog makes its home in Alaska. When the temperatures fall below freezing, a wood frog buries itself deep in the ground. It stops breathing and has no heartbeat. About 65% of the water in this frog's body turns to ice! When the temperatures warm up, the ice inside the frog melts, it starts breathing, and its heart rate returns to normal. The North American wood frog gets my vote for the most amazing amphibian!
  10. Some animals hibernate in a den, while others stay in a nest or cave or even burrow underground. A place where an animal hibernates is called a hibernaculum.
  11. Pet hamsters may go into torpor for a few days a week during cold weather.
  12. The common poorwill is one of the few birds that go into hibernation during the winter months. It can sleep for 100 days in a hole in a tree or another protected area.

I hope this list makes you admire the animals all around us even more. Thanks for reading. - Alan

 

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