Story Time: Fact

December 24, 2016


Hibernating and dormant mammals include bears, squirrels, groundhogs, raccoons, skunks, opossums, dormice, and bats. Frogs, toads, turtles, lizards, snakes, snail, fish, shrimp, and even some insects hibernate or are dormant during the winter.

Arctic ground squirrels can spend up to nine months in hibernation.

Some bats breathe only once every two hours while hibernating.

During hibernation, wood frogs freeze solid, but a special sugar produced by their liver keeps them alive.

A hibernating chipmunk’s heart rate can go from 350 beats a minute to as low as four beats per minute.

The largest snake hibernacles in the world are the Narcisse Snake Dens of Manitoba, Canada, where tens of thousands of snakes gather to overwinter together.

Aestivation is a condition where animals rest during periods of drought and heat. Certain animals, such as serpents and crocodiles, hedgehogs, salamanders and lungfish, in tropical countries go into aestivation to pass the hottest months of the year.

Some fish aestivate in a waterproof mucus envelope if their lake dries up.

The popular American custom of celebrating Groundhog Day on February 2 comes from a folklore about groundhog hibernation. According to the story, if the sun is shining when a groundhog comes out from its burrow on this day, it will see its shadow and return to its home. Then there will be six more weeks of the winter weather. If the day happens to be cloudy, then spring will arrive early. The first ever Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania,

Wood frogs are the most extreme hibernators — 65 per cent of the water in their bodies turns to ice during winter. The frogsicles stay frozen for up to seven months before thawing out just fine.

Published in Dawn, Young World, December 24th, 2016