The hibernation It is the process by which some animals reduce their energy expenditure during a period of the year, because they remain in a state of hypothermia for a few months. For instance: bear, bat, lizard.
The hibernation process appears thanks to the ability of some animals to adapt to the environment. The drastic drop in temperature is causing food shortages (fields can be covered with ice and snow), and can even be lethal. The ability to hibernate arose in response to these extreme cold difficulties.
What happens to the animal’s body when it hibernates?
Animals have their bodies prepared for the hibernation process, and several weeks before starting the formation of a fatty deposit that will allow resistance in that time. In addition, in that previous period the animals carefully prepare the shelter where they will spend those months.
Then when the atmospheric temperature drops to a point more than low, dormancy occurs where the animal may even appear dead. Sometimes animals adopt a particular shape to better protect themselves from the cold, like that of a ball.
Physiologically, hibernation consists of the acquisition of a state of dormancy or winter lethargy, which has as a major consequence in the body the decreased heart rate, the heart rate can be reduced by up to 80%, the respiratory rate by 50% and the temperature by four or five degrees. The animal stops performing some actions that in its most common stage are essential, such as eating, drinking, defecating or urinating.
During hibernation, all species have a exercise of wake with a movement where the body temperature increases, demanding an extraordinary energy expenditure for the hibernation period, which are the moments where more energy is expended.
When spring arrives, these animals return to their normal body temperature and return to normal life, generally with a strong weight loss. In general this moment coincides with the beginning of the mating season.
Examples of hibernating animals
Types of animals that hibernate
Not all animals go into hibernation, but only those that are used to living in a temperate environment, precisely the one where the cold season generates a strong imbalance.
A distinction is usually made between the hibernation of:
- Cold blooded animals. Usually smaller animals such as insects, snails, caterpillars or even fish, which have the peculiarity of adopting particular shapes that allow them to reach higher temperatures.
- Warm-blooded animals. The most compromised by low temperature conditions, among which are hibernating mammals, insectivorous animals and some squirrels.