Tag archives for Hibernation
During the winter months, many animals seem to disappear as temperatures drop and the days grow shorter. Some of them migrate, but others hibernate. Hibernation is a state in which animals fall into a deep sleep-like state. The marmot hibernates for up to eight months every year! But it’s not just mammals that hibernate. Reptiles such as snakes and turtles also hibernate. While the box turtle hibernates, its heart beats once every five to ten minutes, and it doesn’t have to breathe–instead, it takes in oxygen through its skin. When warmer spring temperatures arrive, hibernating animals wake up and go out in search of food to fill their empty stomachs.
Photograph by Lorna Mildice, My Shot
You probably already know that bears hibernate through the winter. They find a cozy den to curl up in, and sleep the cold months away–all without waking up to eat (or even go to the bathroom). Scientists always thought that when the bears slowed their metabolisms so they could sleep for so long without eating, their body temperatures would drop dramatically. A new study says that this isn’t the case.
Alaskan black bears do lower their body temperatures while hibernating, but only by about 9 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit (5 or 6 degrees Celsius). Other body processes slow down as well. The bears’ heart rates dropped from about 55 beats per minute to about 9 beats per minute! How well would humans do with heart rates like slumbering bears? “If we had that kind of longer interval within our heartbeats, we would probably faint,” said study co-author Øivind Tøien, a zoophysiologist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Photograph from All Canada Photos/Alamy