Why do some animals hibernate 1

Hibernation: how does it work in animals?

There are several strategies in the animal kingdom to survive the low temperatures in winter. Some animals hibernate - and that is vital for them.

Not every animal can get a thick coat in winter or fly to the warm south like birds. Some animals only have one way to survive the winter by hibernating. Other animals, on the other hand, hibernate or become frozen in winter.

Which animals hibernate?

Curled up hedgehog: The animals hibernate in the cold season. (Source: Alarich / Getty Images)

When an animal hibernates, it means that it lowers its body temperature, does not consume any food, and its metabolism and all body functions go down. For example, breathing and heartbeat decrease to save energy. During this time the animal lives on its previously eaten fat reserves.

Experts call the state in which it is torpor. However, there are also waking breaks that the animal uses, for example, to give up faeces and urine. The winter sleepers include:

  • Hedgehog
  • Dormouse
  • Bats
  • Marmots

Why do animals actually hibernate?

Animals hibernate because they can no longer find enough food in the ice and snow. When it starts to get colder, hedgehogs, dormice, marmots and also bats retreat to their winter quarters and fall into a deep sleep.

No animal should be awakened while it is hibernating, as it can mean death if they wander around in the snow and cold. Winter sleepers also consume a lot of energy when they wake up.

How long does hibernation last?

The duration of hibernation varies from animal to animal. As a rule, the animals retire for hibernation in November or December and only become active again in spring. Hedgehogs hibernate from around mid-November to March or April, while dormice usually hibernate for around seven months from mid-September.

Which animals hibernate?

The animals that spend the cold season in hibernation fare a little differently. Their resting state is interrupted more often than with winter sleepers by waking phases. It is true that their energy requirements also decrease, but they also have to provide themselves with food in winter. Animals that hibernate include:

  • squirrel
  • Raccoons
  • Badgers
  • Brown bears

Which animals are frozen in time?

Toad in winter: In cold temperatures, toads fall into a frozen state. (Source: imago / blickwinkel)

Cold-blooded animals such as amphibians and reptiles do not have a constant body temperature, but adapt to the ambient temperature. At low temperatures they can no longer move and fall into rigid winter conditions, also known as rigid cold. They include, among others:

  • Toads
  • Turtles
  • Lizards
  • some insects
  • some species of fish

Toads, for example, seek out a vole hole in the ground to prevent them from wintering, or they crawl deep into the mud of a stream or lake. In contrast to a hibernator, a toad cannot be awakened so easily from a rigor. When the temperatures rise again in spring, the rigid winter dissolves and the toad has to regain its strength.

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