It is difficult and strange to imagine a situation where you and your family would go into a coma in a warm, underground bedroom anytime it drops below freezing just to avoid dealing with the temperature and the snow. However, the world around us is certainly full of creatures which do exactly that. While hibernation is something most people know about on a broad level, there is a certain amount of overestimation in the actual knowledge people have.
A select number of animals which live in a seasonal wintery environment are capable of hibernating, which is the process of slowing down the metabolism to a point where the animal is able to avoid moving for weeks, if not months. The animal appears to be sleeping and has slowed its heart rate, breathing and has even dropped its body temperature to an extreme level. The neurological systems of hibernating animals, however, are just as active as the animal in a normal waking condition. In fact there are technical breaks in hibernation for the animal to sleep.
Everyone knows that bears go into hibernation but there are a number of other animals which hibernate. Groundhogs (also known as woodchucks) may go into a hibernation which can last up to 5 months. During that time, the animal goes through some intense physical changes, like its heart only beating 5 times a minute, only breathing once every 30 seconds and its body temperature falling to a mere 37 degrees Fahrenheit. Bats also go into a state similar to hibernation, known as torpor, which may last as long as the bat needs it to, anywhere from a few hours up to about 30 days.
That being said, there are a number of other animals that do not hibernate which may be assumed to hibernate. Namely, these include most cold-blooded animals, as they cannot actively regulate their body temperature. These include fish, reptiles and amphibians, although these animals do have their own tactics for dealing with the winter months. Notable warm-blooded animals which do not hibernate include opossums, racoons, moles and deer.
Mice also do not hibernate, which means they are looking for a warm place to live which also has food. Our houses have both warmth and food and any inkling of these two will attract mice through the frozen winterscape. Ensure there are no drafts by doors, windows, or other fixtures which are available to mice, which can fit through spaces as small as a penny. Also, make sure that garbage is taken out and food is stored properly to make sure mice do not find their way in.
When preparing for winter hibernation, many animals start the process of food accumulation, both eating the food as well as storing the food in certain places for the winter. Many animals create burrows underground to store food and prepare a place to hibernate. Other animals will sometimes find and commandeer some of the dens prepared by other animals. Sometimes these same animals make their way into and under our structures in order to find shelter to hibernate.
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