Animal Hibernation – A Dormant Phase of Animal Life
Hibernation is a period when endotherm animals show the dormant state due to decrease in metabolic activity. Endotherms are animals those can regulate the body temperature. Hibernation is often associated with the colder climate and the purpose is to conserve the energy of body in chilly winds and scarcity of food. The period of hibernation could be last for days, weeks and several months which are further depend upon the kind of species, temperature and period of the year.
However, mostly animals go to hibernation state during the colder season to conserve the energy because during this period of time one need high amount of energy to survive which is not possible especially in Polar Regions and at higher altitudes like snow capped Himalayan Ranges as they are always covered with snow leading to scarcity of food in the area. Animals like polar and grizzly bears eat a lot before entering into state of deep sleep in winter season so that the stored energy could sufficiently serve them during entire period of Hibernation. These species eat a lot and deposit energy inform of fat while small animals such as rodents use the technique of food caching, they eat food whenever require and become fat. Ground squirrel, prairie dog, hamster, marmot and dormouse follow the pattern for days to weeks to regulate body temperature at favorable point. During gestation period also some mammals goes to hibernation. In such cases young ones born during hibernation period or shortly after hibernating.
In the period of hibernation animals use the body fat to survive without losing muscle. Digestion of body fat during deep sleep make animals thinner but remain strong as they were during fall season. Going to deep sleep also depends upon individual body type of animal. For instance, a weak hibernating animal could wake up occasionally during winter due to hunger which could be a threatening state of life for him. Nevertheless, most of the animals awaken during spring season and are very hungry.
Before hibernating, most of the animals search for safe hideouts such as nest, burrows and dens. Different species search for different safe place because during deep sleep they are prone to become easily getable food for others. Eg: Himalayan Marmot excavate burrow for hibernation. These hideouts provide them safe place away from the eyes of other predators.
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