What animals hibernate? Why do they hibernate?
Hibernation is the process in which an animal drastically reduces its metabolic rate, the speed at which it burns energy to stay alive.
This means that there is no need for food since all of their bodily processes are slowed down significantly.
What Animals Hibernate?
Hibernation is an adaptation that has evolved in many different species, both endothermic (warm-blooded) and ectothermic (cold-blooded).
Many mammals hibernate, including bears, badgers, bats, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and hedgehogs.
Some reptiles hibernate, including turtles and tortoises.
Amphibians also hibernate—frogs can survive the cold winter by hibernating in ponds of water!
Even insects like crickets will go dormant during cold months.
Bird species aren’t well known for hibernation since they do not need to eat food; instead, they stock up on food in the summer for the wintertime.
Some bird species will migrate to warmer areas in order to weather through cold winters, others need to adapt to their surroundings accordingly.
Why Do Animals Hibernate?
The point of hibernation is simple.
An environment cannot sustain life when it gets too cold or dry.
As a result, animals have ways to survive these harsh conditions.
In winter, food is scarce and humidity drops.
In the summer months, it may be too hot for certain animals to survive.
For example, an animal that has developed a way to make its own water from the food it eats cannot survive in dry conditions—this is why there are no known reptiles or amphibians that hibernate outside of rainforest habitat.
Hibernation is also a way to conserve energy and protect against predators.
Since food is scarce it doesn’t make sense to expend any more energy than necessary, so an animal will use this time to its advantage and lower the number of calories it uses.
By staying dormant during winter many animals can avoid getting caught by predators and wait until it is safe to come out again.
Many animals hibernate in groups since they provide warmth for one another and many species find safety by staying together in a den.
There are even some species of bat who will hibernate in the same caves in order to survive the winter!
There are major differences in how long, or short, animals hibernate depending on the species.
Some mammals will only hibernate for a few months while others can spend up to 7 months in this state.
It usually depends on the region’s weather.
What Are The Problems With Hibernation?
Many animal populations have issues with hibernation due to deforestation or habitat loss, changing temperatures due to the changing weather and climate, food shortages due to overhunting or lack of proper management, loss of biodiversity through other animals preying on them while they are hibernating, predators killing hibernating animals, pollution (increases in greenhouse gasses which makes winter more like summer), disease (animals do not get enough food, therefore, there is a lack of nutrients and the immune system becomes weaker), etc.