9 Animals That Hibernate

11 mins read
Animals That Hibernate

Hibernation is the act of one animal sleeping through winter. The term comes from “hiberna” Latin for “winter sleep.” Hibernation was once thought to be primarily a mammalian response due to the belief that mammals had more efficient metabolisms than reptiles. There are tons of animals that hibernate for survival.

However, it has since been discovered that hibernating reptiles have fewer metabolic pathways involved in keeping themselves warm by shivering or gaining heat from their surroundings, relying primarily on anaerobic glycolysis which produces lactic acid as a byproduct. For this reason, some species of turtles may also undergo hibernation, although they are primarily ectotherms and are not able to produce body heat at all.

The method of hibernation is completely different from what we’re used to. In most mammals, the body is able to use stored fat as a current energy source during extreme conditions such as extreme cold or starvation

Wood Frogs

Wood Frog, Photo by Michael Zahniser, Wikimedia
Source: The National Wildlife Federation @ All Rights Reserved

A wood frog is a small, terrestrial frog that is typically green or brown. It lives in the deciduous forest, where it forages for insects and other invertebrates on the ground. Wood frogs use this as a form of camouflage to hide from predators such as snakes. Some people also report it as having an unusually long tongue! They are often referred to as rain frogs due to their temporary ability to change color depending on what herbivores and predators come their way during seasons (hence their namesake). This means that at any point in time, you can find them near water or land; finding either type of frog should not be too difficult if you’re even remotely close.

They are very cold-tolerant, surviving when the temperature drops to below -10 degrees Celsius (which is low for any frog).

Wood frogs are native only to North America and are found most commonly in Canada and Alaska. But they can also be found in some parts of northern United States. Wood frogs live near ponds, marshes, swamps, and bogs where it is damp or wet year-round.

The Wood Frog hibernates during winter. The Wood Frog belongs to the group of animals that hibernates to help it survive during winter. It does this by burrowing into the ground to stay warm. When hibernating, the Wood Frog does not eat or drink anything until spring arrives. The frog stays inactive for 1-3 months until springtime. The hibernation process is very helpful for animals because it allows them to be less active so they can conserve energy, and stay asleep for a long period of time without eating anything.

Ground Squirrel

Ground squirrel
Source: Britannica © Digital Vision/Getty Images @ All Rights Reserved

Ground squirrels are rodents found in North and Central America. They usually live in burrows and feed on the roots of plants. Ground squirrels can be larger than a rat, with a body length of up to 4 inches (10 cm), and they have bigger paws to dig up roots.

Ground squirrels, whose weight is typically about half a pound. Ground squirrels hibernate during the winter months. Squirrels enter hibernation by burying themselves in the ground, creating a chamber or nest that they seal off with mud or snow. Once weather conditions are favorable for the ground’s ecosystem, the squirrel will wake up after an undetermined amount of time.

Hibernation can last from weeks upon weeks to over six months for some species of ground squirrels! Ground squirrel hibernation is one of nature’s most amazing ways to conserve energy and prepare for winter.

The animals typically wake up when food is abundant. For most squirrels, the dream of sitting in the sun all day is over once they awaken, because most ground squirrels spend their days eating and preparing for their next hibernation.

The process for hibernation is not entirely understood by scientists. The body temperature of these animals that hibernate drops to an average of 78 degrees Fahrenheit, sometimes reaching 55 degrees Fahrenheit in some species. This drastic drop in body temperature provides a resting or “dormant” state during which breathing slows from 12 times per minute to four times per minute, and the heartbeat from 1,100 to 230 beats per minute. This is known as torpor.

During the winter, the ground squirrels need to eat about their own body weight in food each week. This is equivalent to humans eating over 200 pounds of food each week!

The spring months are spent nurturing young, growing, and finding mates. The fall months are spent preparing for hibernation. The harshness of the upcoming winter months forces these animals to live life in complete extremes.

Garter snakes

A common garter snake in the leaves.
Source: LiveScience Image credit: David Duneau @ All Rights Reserved

The garter snake is a type of snake that gets its name from the false notion that they use their tails to help hold up their loose, yet sturdy skin. In reality, they have no tail unlike other snakes, but the name has stuck with them anyway. The garter snake can be found in North America and Central America.

Garter Snakes generally are animals that hibernate throughout the winter and can live at a wide range of temperatures. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they will search for a suitable location. During hibernation, their breathing and heart rate slows down to conserve energy and water. Garter snakes are known to den in animal burrows, under logs or rocks, in piles of leaves or vegetation on the forest floor, or in mammal burrows under sheds or porches when it is too cold.

When they are ready to emerge from hibernation in late spring/early summer, they usually wake up when soil temperatures reach 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. All of the Garter Snakes will emerge at the same time to avoid competition. This is why it is important to find a den site before you release your snakes. For Garter Snakes, digging a pitfall tunnel is more efficient than digging a pit, because snakes are able to fine-tune soil temperatures by detecting slight differences in temperature between various substrates and their surroundings.

When they emerge from hibernation, they do not eat or drink for about 2 weeks and their breeding cycle begins. If you need them to breed immediately after releasing them, leave food and water outside their den and leave the lid/cover on their preferred hibernation site during the day. Also, it is best to keep the snakes in the same habitat.

 

Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemurs

DSC9458EDSHP cm 7165 7280
Source: Duke Lemur Centre @ All Rights Reserved

This strange little creature has already attracted a lot of attention. These animals that hibernate were first discovered in 2009 but still remain pretty mysterious to researchers today. We know that these particular lemurs are found only in northern Madagascar and we know they’re lovable creatures with quirky personalities. But we don’t know much else about them — and what we do know is only scratching the surface.

When it gets to be winter in Madagascar, there is very little food in the trees for them to eat. This is because most of the fruit has already fallen and many of the leaves have fallen off. To protect themselves from winter weather they go into hibernation in limestone caves.

The fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the first tropical mammal and the only primate that hibernates. During winter months when it’s cold and there’s not much food available for them to find, which is typically December through April when they are found on ground level searching for anything they can find to eat. Once they awaken from their sleep it is springtime on the island of Madagascar.

The fat-tailed dwarf lemur uses hibernation to protect itself from cold weather in Madagascar. During the winter months, they go into hibernation by being found in limestone caves under the ground on the island of Madagascar, where there are no predators to get them during this time, which allows them to wake up when summer comes back around.

Bats

Bat - Natural history | Britannica
Source: Britannica Credit: Animals Animals/SuperStock @ All Rights Reserved

There are more than 1,300 species of bats in the world – 285 species live in North America alone. You can find them all over the world, including Antarctica!

Why do bats hibernate? The bat species living in the Arctic regions can hibernate while the bat species living in tropical regions do not have to because there is always food available. Bats are also able to adjust their metabolism during colder times of the year by slowing down their breathing rate which conserves body heat. Bats are able to control the amount of oxygen they need while hibernating because their breathing rate is reduced.

The hibernation period of bats varies by species and geographical region. Eastern red bats can hibernate for up to 7 months while Mexican free-tailed bats may only hibernate for 5 weeks.

All hibernating bats do not have the same process. There are two ways in which mammals hibernate. The “traditional” cold weather hibernators will build up their fat stores in the fall, then lower their body temperature during hibernation to reduce their needs for energy and oxygen.

The second way in which mammals hibernate is to undergo physiological changes during their sleep. These changes are brought on by longer days or shortness of food supply within the animal’s specific environment, resulting in a time of dormancy when body temperature is reduced and breathing rate is decreased.

Many bats can live more than one year without food. The more times a bat goes through the winter, the more calories it has stored to power itself over the long winter period. The hibernation process also allows energy to be stored for feeding and flight readiness during the summer and spring months.

Bats are found around the world, but not all bats hibernate.

Snails

Snail Roman
Source: AZ Animals @ All Rights Reserved

Snails hibernate in the winter, and they enter a state of torpor. Being cold-blooded animals their body temperature decreases, therefore they hibernate. Their bodies can stop all body functions for weeks at a time and even months at a time. The process is called brumation or estivation and it allows them to live on their own stored food supplies while also lowering their metabolic rate.

During this process, snails will reduce activity, decrease feeding by up to 95%, reduce body temperature by up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and avoid high levels of oxygen that cause stress. Snails usually go into estivation after the temperature gets too cold to stay active. They usually go into estivation in the fall and they can do it on their own or with others.

Snails that do not go into hibernation and estivation and continue to live in colder climates, such as in alpine zones, will die during winter because they don’t have the process to sustain life through harsh periods. Hibernating snails can survive temperature extremes down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero and temperatures this low cause dehydration in humans.

Snails that aestivate or estivate also reduce their metabolic rate and their body temperature drops while increasing the oxygen in their bodies to cope with the increased activity during waking periods. Some species of snails can drop their metabolic rate by up to 95% during hibernation. They come out of estivation when food is available again.

Snails in estivation are found throughout the world in areas that have winter months, but they are most common in tropical climates. Snails in these areas will leave their homes when the weather becomes too cold then hibernate when it gets too cold. Snails that live in northern climates hibernate underground, under rocks, or above ground burrowed into the soil.

Bears

brown bear
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This is one of the most common myths about animals you will hear. Bears are excellent examples of animals that hibernate during winter or periods with little food availability. These animals will drastically reduce their food intake and reduce their activity which will give them enough resources for survival. For example, they can only stay awake for weeks at a time during winter before facing starvation and death. It should also be noted that not all bears hibernate at the same time or even in the same area!

So what are these conditions? Well, firstly it has to be cold enough outside for bears to survive without food or shelter other than their own bodies. This varies from bear to bear but is usually between 0 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius. It should also be noted that, much like humans, warm-blooded animals can survive at higher temperatures for a limited time before endangering their health!

Another important factor is that bears need to have three months without food before they are able to begin hibernating. This is because there are certain biological processes that take place during hibernation which require the bear’s body to be in tip-top condition so it can survive through the winter.

The last major factor is that bears need a long winter season. This is because during hibernation the bear’s heartbeat drops to less than 10 beats per minute. This allows him to utilize less oxygen and therefore use up less energy during the winter months. If the winter season is too short, this will not be possible and hibernation will not occur.

White-Tailed Prairie Dogs

White-Tailed Prairie Dog
Source: Animalia Attribute: ShareAlike License @ All Rights Reserved

The white-tailed prairie dog is one of North America’s most distinctive and widely distributed mammals. They can be found in the grasslands and shrublands of the entire continent and beyond, as well as on many islands. Unlike other rodents, their diet consists mostly of plants with just a small amount of meat that they find along their travels. Hibernation typically occurs from late autumn to early spring when snow covers vegetation is still plentiful

White-tailed prairie dogs typically hibernate for two to three months at a time during late fall through winter, but some individuals will go into hibernation for up to eight months with several attending them throughout the year. They will hibernate in dens underground, but can also take shelter under logs or rock crevices. The amount of space they require for each hibernation will depend on the size of the prairie dog colony.

These animals use their sense of smell to determine if there is enough food for them to prepare for hibernation; they will be more likely to enter hibernation if there is plenty of vegetation during winter (not all animals that hibernate do so at this time). If they find that there is not enough vegetation left, then the prairie dogs will wake up earlier than usual and move around more in order to locate food. They may also leave their dens sooner if conditions are still too warm.

The animal’s brain is quite small, enabling them to survive on very little sleep. It has been observed that these animals only need approximately three hours of sleep each night which has resulted in some people discussing whether or not their lifestyle is more efficient than humans or whether it is more efficient than other primates.

 

Box Turtles

Eastern Box Turtle Lg
Source: Welcome Wildlife Credits: NPS / Wiki @ All Rights Reserved

The box turtle is a terrestrial variety of turtle which spends most of its life on land. Box turtles are generally seen in the wild either crossing highways or climbing out of car tires. Unlike other kinds of turtles, box turtles’ hibernation period extends up to 6 months of the year.

Box Turtles are known to live in many different places, but they mainly reside near rivers, ponds, and marshes. They are also mostly found around Virginia and have been known to travel up to 1/2 mile from their nesting grounds during their mating season…

Due to being so close to the water for so much time, you might be wondering why they do not drown when they hibernate underwater for 6 months at a time.

They do this because the area in which they live has a water source nearby. They also have a specific temperature range in which they hibernate. Therefore, if the temperature rises too much or dips below a certain level, they will not be able to hibernate well.

Basically, their body temperatures are designed to keep them from dying from hypothermia while they’re hibernating underwater. They have been known to live up to 30 years old.

Box turtles are animals that hibernate from September through May. In the wild, they can be found hibernating in a variety of different areas including forests, marshes, and abandoned buildings. Depending on where they are hibernating, they sometimes will dig a small hole in which they bury themselves for the entire winter season. Other times, they will find a large rock or a very thick piece of bark and fall asleep on top of it until winter is over.

Few other hibernating animals include worker bees and deer mice. However, bees hibernate in a way different from how other animals hibernate. They do not go into a deep sleep like most animals. Rather when the temperatures drop, all the bees huddle together in their hives, with the queen at the center of the huddle for warmth. Some bees die, mostly the worker bees die.

Infographic that shows some bizzare animal behaviors hard to believe
USA Tales
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