For most animals finding enough food in winter can be difficult when the main source of food like insects or green plants is in short supply. Some animals solve this problem by hibernating.

What is Hibernation?

ToadFor most animals finding enough food in winter can be difficult when the main source of food like insects or green plants is in short supply.

Some animals solve this problem by hibernating. Hibernation is a deep sleep that helps them to save energy and survive the winter without eating much.

During hibernation the animal’s body temperature drops, and its heartbeat and its breathing slow down so that it does not use much energy.

Hibernating animals get ready for their winter sleep by eating extra food and storing it as body fat which they then use as energy while sleeping.  There are two types of fat – regular white fat and brown fat.  The brown fat forms patches near the animal’s brain, heart and lungs. It sends a quick burst of energy to warm these organs first when it is time to wake up.

Some of the hibernating animals include fish, frogs and turtles, which have no way to keep warm during winter. They shelter under logs, rocks and fallen leaves in the water. When the weather gets cold, they move down to the bottom of lakes and ponds and some even burrow into the mud.

Some insects also hibernate and to keep warm they find holes in the ground, under tree bark or in rotting logs. Can you name some of the animals that hibernate in the winter?

Some hibernators go into such a deep sleep that it is almost impossible to wake them, and they appear to be dead.

If the temperature falls too low some animals will awaken slightly and shiver to warm up a bit.  Even when the weather is severe, hibernators may wake up for a short period every few weeks to use their ‘toilet rooms’ and eat a little food if it is available.

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