Hibernation is a biological phenomenon observed in endotherm(warm-blooded) organisms that regulate their body temperature from the heat generated by the internal biochemical reactions inside the body. Eating food is the primary source of energy to do this. Hibernation usually happens during the winter, where finding food is hard for animals and birds. So to sustain itself, the animals hibernate. During hibernation the metabolism of the organism is slowed down, and the temperature is decreased. A few animals like bears eat more before the hibernation and increase their body mass to survive. A few animals like insects and birds migrate in groups to safe havens called hibernaculum to hibernate together.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do animals hibernate in summer?
Yes, animals undergo a type of hibernation in summer. The correct term for this is aestivation. This happens in hot and arid regions, where the organisms need to lower their metabolic rate to prevent themselves from the high risks of hot temperatures.
How do animals know when to hibernate?
Hibernation is mostly dependent on the ambient temperature. For a few species of animals, hibernation and migration are triggered by their annual internal biological clock mechanism called circannual rhythms. In humans, the circadian rhythm signals them to sleep at intervals. In a similar way, the circannual rhythm signals the animals to go into hibernation annually. For example, most animals turn hyperphagic just before their hibernation time. This helps them over eat and save food internally as body fats for their survival during hibernation.
What is the difference between hibernation and sleeping?
Sleep is simply a neurological phenomenon that happens at short intervals and doesn't change the physiology of the organism much. Hibernation is a physiological phenomenon that is essential for the survival of the organism for longer periods of weeks and months, where the metabolic activity and temperature are reduced to the lowest levels.
Can primates and humans hibernate?
The dwarf lemur of Madagascar is the only known primate that can hibernate. However, it is believed that some mammals can extend their daily torpor to days and months in theory with the help of induced hypothermia by using hydrogen sulfide gas in low levels. This has not proven on humans yet.