Animals that hibernate seem to have the right idea: Head indoors, hang up the ‘Do not disturb’ sign and catch some Z’s until Spring returns. Or do they? Several animals may seem to snooze away the long dark winter days, but that isn’t what actually happens. Here are some surprising facts about what happens to animals during hibernation. (And why humans can’t hibernate.)
Does hibernation mean sleeping?
Hedgehogs, bears, bats and other animals aren’t really sleeping during hibernation. As this article from Woodland Trust explains, hibernating animals enter a state of inactivity where their heart rate and breathing slows, and their body temperature and metabolism drops. The body temperature of the Artic ground squirrel can drop to below -2°C while a bat’s heart rate can drop from 400 to 11 beats per minute.