Spring is here and all those clever animals that went into hibernation have woken up.
In order to survive harsh winters, some animals go into a deep sleep so they can survive throughout the cold season when the weather is freezing and the food is scarce.
Here are some of nature’s top hibernators.
Bears are most commonly associated with hibernation, which is ironic, as they do not go into nearly as deep a sleep as their hibernating counterparts. In fact, they go into ‘torpor’ and are very easily awakened! This allows female bears to give birth to and nurse their young. By the time Spring rolls around, the young cubs will be big and strong enough to face the world.
Hedgehogs hibernate anywhere from a few weeks to six months, depending on the weather. During this time, their heart rate drops almost 90 percent. They only wake briefly if their body temperatures drop too low. This is to allow their waking heart rate to warm their bodies up. Hedgehogs have also been known to go into estivation when the weather is very hot. This is similar to hibernation but allows them to tolerate scorching temperatures.
Bats hibernate in a big way, meaning they are in such a deep sleep that they may appear to be dead. Their heart rate drops from 400 to 25 beats per minute, and their breathing slows so much that they sometimes do not take a breath for up to an hour.
Bats hibernate alone or in a group depending on the species and can be found in trees, caves, and even in people’s attics
Hamsters, like bears, go into brief torpors during cold weather. An uninformed hamster owner may be led to people that their beloved pet has died, but in fact they just fall into a deep sleep for a few days during cold weather! They only do this if there is plenty of food available to snack on during waking periods.
Wood frogs are fascinating hibernators, as they actually freeze over! During the cold months they stop breathing, their heart stops and ice crystals form in their blood. When the weather warms, they are defrosted and revived!