By Christina Harkleroad, intern coordinator
Dani’s Dreams Outdoor Education Center
Now in the midst of winter, some animals are in a stage called hibernation. This is a state of inactivity where their body temperature decreases and their heartbeat and breathing slow down. Their bodies go through this to conserve energy that the animals spent all fall saving up. During fall time, the animals eat an increased amount of food to increase their overall body fat. This allows them to be insulated and they will use it throughout their hibernation period for energy.
Many animals hibernate. Some animals in our area that hibernate are skunks, chipmunks, some squirrels, and some bats. Also, bears hibernate but those are not in our area. They are mainly in mountain regions to our south and east. These animals hibernate to conserve energy in the winter months when food is hard to find. As animals prepare for hibernation, they eat enough food to last them through the upcoming winter months. Their bodies produce special fat tissues around their brain, heart, and lungs to provide extra insulation in those areas.
Animals who use lots of energy throughout the winter days, but do not hibernate, become dormant during parts of the day. This is similar to hibernating however instead of sleeping throughout winter, they sleep for a major part of the day in order to conserve energy. Hummingbirds and some small bats are examples of animals that are dormant for parts of winter.
During winter you see less squirrels, chipmunks, and skunks, now you know that they’re just in hibernation and once spring rolls around, they’ll be back to their playful ways. In my next column, I will be exploring what germination is as spring time grows closer and the flowers begin to bloom.
Check out the Dani’s Dreams Facebook Page to see the Top 10 Coolest Hibernators! Become a Dani’s Dreams Team Member here and find out how to track animals with our winter newsmat! You’ll get a wristband and a certificate, too!