When the temperature drops and food becomes scarce, wild animals are forced to adapt. Many animals who live in cold climates undergo hibernation. Hibernation allows the animal to conserve energy by lowering their heart rates and slowing their metabolism. Check out the top 10 animals that hibernate in winter below!
Turtles who live in colder climates must hibernate because they are unable to produce their own body heat. To keep warm, turtles bury themselves underground and lower their heart rate to 5-10 beats per minute. In fact, turtles stop all breathing and rely on their skin to attain oxygen. Depending on the climate, turtles will hibernate for four to five months.
When temperatures drop and bats need to conserve energy, they go into a type of hibernation called torpor. Torpor can last anywhere from a couple of days to months at a time. During this time of decreased physical activity, bats hang in groups from ceilings, while their heartbeat drops from 300 beats a minute to only 10 beats per minute!
As the temperature gets colder, all male and worker bees die. However, the queen bee survives the winter by burying herself in the dirt, a tree stump, or underneath leaves. The queen bee will hibernate as long as 9 months before building a new colony.
Unlike many animals, snails do not just hibernate during cold weather. In order to keep moist, snails go into their shell and cover their opening hole with a layer of mucus. While hibernating, snails use little energy and can hibernate for years!
During hibernation, hedgehogs are able to drop their heart rate by up to 90%. However, if temperatures drop too low, hedgehogs will increase their heart rate and shortly wake up to warm up. Hedgehogs typically hibernate for six to seven months.
Snakes hibernate in groups. In some cases, where it is extremely cold, snakes will group together in the thousands to keep warm. Snakes seek out insulated hideouts where they can all bunch together to create heat. Depending on the climate, snakes will hibernate anywhere between a few weeks to five months.
Wood frogs undergo an intense hibernation cycle. The frogs will completely stop breathing and their hearts will stop. Ice crystals will actually start forming in their blood! Once the temperature heats up, the ice will melt and their hearts will start beating again.
Flickr: Aaron Maizlish
The Poorwill is the only species of bird to hibernate. Unlike other birds who migrate, the Poorwill will bury itself in a log or under a rock and sleep for an average of 100 days. During this time, the Poorwill lowers its energy needs by 93%.
Marmots spend their months awake reproducing and preparing for hibernation. During the winter months, marmots decrease their energy levels and take only two to three breathes per minute. This extreme level of hibernation allows them to hibernate for up to eight months.
Four types of bears hibernate: American Black Bears, Asiatic Black Bears, Brown Bears, and Polar Bears. Similar to bats, bears do not actually hibernate but go into torpor. Bears will conserve their energy by lowering their heart rate, breathing rate, and physical activity. However, bears can still wake easily and are able to give birth during hibernation.