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What is Hibernation?

Biology | 7-14 yrs | Animation, Video

Definition of Hibernation

When animals hibernate, it means that they are going into a deep and prolonged sleep. Animals mostly do this in the winter times when the temperature outside is very cold and food is hard to find. Different animals follow different patterns of hibernation. Animals can put themselves into a deep sleep for as long as several months.

They retreat underground or in caves where they know they will be safe from predators. During this time their breathing and heart rate slows down. Because of their decreased breathing and heart rate, their body temperature is able to drop close to the temperature outside. They use up reserves of fat stored in their body to survive. Since they are not doing much activity, this can last them for the entire duration of their hibernation.

Not all animals that hibernate, sleep for the entire time. For example, the door mouse will hoard large amounts of food in its nest and wake up on the warmer days to eat. Humans do not need to hibernate because we have invented methods of producing food in the cold and storing large amounts for when there is none growing.

You already sleep during the night. Can you imagine going to sleep for 6 months at a time?

Try and research the different amounts of time that hibernating animals sleep. Also categorise your results as those that go into complete hibernation and those that sometimes wake up to eat.

Head on to Biology for Kids for more such interesting biology videos and interactive articles.