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Hot on the Trail: Hibernation


Hibernation is a common phenomenon for some animals during the winter;
But can you wake a hibernating animal?

 

Hibernation varies so much from one animal to the next. And for most animals, if you tried hard enough, you could wake them up from the state of hibernation. True hibernation involves an animal usually going into a protected space like a burrow or a den, dropping their body temperature to match the temperature outside, slowing their breathing and heart rate, and lowering their metabolism. Animals don't necessarily sleep away the whole winter like some people think, but they are able to go long periods of time with little or no food.

 

woodchuck

 

True Hibernators: garter snakes, turtles, frogs, salamanders, bees, woodchucks, chipmunks, and bats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other species will go into a daily torpor, which is similar to an overnight hibernation! During the state of torpor an animals heart rate is extremely low but their body temperature is relatively high; and they won’t eat or release bodily waste. Animals hibernate as a way to adapt to their surroundings. They have to be able to survive the cold weather.

 

Black Bear Torpor

 

Torpor Animals: bears, raccoons, skunks, and prairie dogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bottom line is that you shouldn't disturb an animal at all, whether it's a true hibernator or not! Each animal is different!

 

-Ranger Rachel


 

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