Hibernation is a state of inactivity and reduced metabolism that some animals enter to conserve energy during the winter. The word “hibernate” derives from the Latin word “hībernāre,” meaning “of winter.”1
Many different kinds of animals hibernate, from mammals and reptiles to amphibians and even some insects. Here are some examples of animals that hibernate:
- Bats: Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly, but they are also one of the few species that hibernate. They slow down their heart rate and body temperature and hang upside down in caves or hollow trees.2 Some species of bats spend winter hibernating in roofs, caves and bat boxes.3
- Bears: Bears hibernate by slowing their heart rate and metabolism. They do not eat, drink, urinate or defecate during this time. They rely on their stored fat for energy and insulation.2 Bears only hibernate if they live in a cold climate.4
- Bumblebees: Bumblebees are social insects that form colonies with a queen and workers. Only the queen bumblebee survives the winter by hibernating underground. She emerges in spring to start a new colony.2
- Chipmunks: Chipmunks are small rodents that live in burrows. They collect food such as nuts and seeds during summer and autumn and store them in their burrows for winter. They hibernate by curling up in a ball and lowering their body temperature.25
- Deer Mice: Deer mice are nocturnal rodents that live in forests, grasslands and deserts. They build nests of grasses, feathers and fur inside tree cavities or underground tunnels. They hibernate by entering a state of torpor, which is similar to hibernation but shorter and less deep.2
These are just some of the animals that hibernate during winter. Hibernation is an amazing adaptation that helps them survive harsh conditions.