Copyright

What is Hibernation? - Definition & Facts

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Acclimation in Biology: Definition & Overview

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 What Is Hibernation?
  • 0:37 Why Do Animals Hibernate?
  • 1:01 Two Types of Hibernation
  • 2:52 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Hibernation allows animals to survive in harsh climates where others would perish. This lesson defines hibernation, discusses which animals hibernate, and includes some other facts on these awesomely long naps.

What Is Hibernation?

Have you ever wished you could just sleep through winter and avoid the icy roads, blizzards, and snow shoveling? Well, you could avoid all those things if you were an animal that hibernates. An animal that hibernates does the following during months when survival becomes difficult:

  • Slows breathing, reduces body temperature, and lowers metabolism
  • Becomes inactive
  • Gets out of sight (like moving to a burrow or a cave)
  • Prepares its body (in other words, gets fattened up)

Unfortunately, humans cannot hibernate. However, there are many species that do, including black and brown bears, ground squirrels, and even some birds!

Why Do Animals Hibernate?

It may surprise you to know that animals hibernate due to lack of food or water, and not strictly due to temperature. Of course, there is often a lack of food and water when temperatures are very cold, which is why we typically associate hibernation with winter months. But, a species of lemur in warm Madagascar hibernates due to lack of water. Most hibernators that you are familiar with, such as bears, hibernate in northern climates.

Two Types of Hibernation

Daily Torpor

When you think of hibernation, many people think of something like a big bear sleeping in a cave. Although bears do hibernate, this is only part of the story. Many small birds and mammals can undergo daily torpor, or lowering their body temperature and metabolism at night. By lowering their metabolism and body temperature, these small mammals do not need to eat as much. Remember, food is often scarce in the winter, and these small animals need a lot of food to maintain a warm body temperature. For example, hummingbirds require a lot of calories in order to maintain their fast wing beat, so hummingbirds employ daily torpor in order to survive the night without eating.

Seasonal Torpor

Animals like Arctic ground squirrels undergo seasonal torpor, or lowering their body temperatures dramatically for long periods of time. The ground squirrel can lower its body temperature to near freezing, whereas bears lower their temperature 8-12 degrees below their normal body temperature during hibernation.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support