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Fascinating Facts about Hibernation

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Everyone knows that certain animals such as hedgehogs and bears hibernate during the winter months. However, you might not know that animals like turtles, frogs, bats, bees, snakes, and snails also do the same. Spring has arrived and winter hibernation is at long last over.

  • Even though they go to sleep for the winter there are hibernating animals which wake up for short periods of time during these months to eat and relieve themselves. Other animals don’t move all winter.
  • Very heavy sleepers are European hedgehogs and if you happened to discover one during its winter slumber you might think this poor animal was dead. Its ears, feet, and skin all appear cold to the touch and you cannot detect any breathing. At this time its heartbeat slows to around 20 beats per minute but normally it races at about 190 beats per minute.
  • In preparation for the long winter, nap bears can gain up to 30 pounds.
  • An animal in hibernation will wake up when its body automatically signals that its temperature is falling below the danger zone. It means that their temperature is too close to the freezing point.
  • Snails create a sort of self-hibernation. Once they burrow underground and draw into their shells they seal their doors with a kind of chalky, slimy excretion that then hardens and locks in essential moisture. Then they can go into their deep winter’s sleep. In this way, they use practically no energy and don’t need any food.
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  • To survive the winter various bee species will stop flying when the temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. They come together huddling in the center of their hive making their winter cluster. At the center is the queen bee and all of her sister bees will rotate through the cluster to be sure that no bee gets too cold for too long. In the center of the cluster will be around 80 degrees and on the outer edges between 46 and 48 degrees. It is at this time that bees will eat their stored honey which helps them to produce much-needed body heat. If there are warmer days bees may venture forth to eliminate body waste.
  • Garter snakes will hibernate together even in hundreds or thousands.

  • Large brown bats can go all winter without eating but will wake up to drink. Their heartbeat rates drop from 1000 beats per minute to 25 beats per minute and take only one breath in around every two hours.
  • Only one bird species is known to hibernate. It’s the Common Poorwill. This little brown speckled bird will search for and find a sheltered area and then settle down for up to five months. Without waking up it can sleep for up to 100 days and once awakened it has to have around seven hours to get its normal body temperature back.
  • Four bear species don’t hibernate as deeply as other animals do – American Black, Brown, Polar, and Asiatic bears. Their temperatures drop only a little bit and they wake up quickly. The mother bears do hard work during hibernation as this is the time that they give birth to cubs and raise them for the first few months of their lives.

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