Which animals hibernate?

Winter: which animals hibernate?

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Some animals hibernate when the cold or lack of food is too much for them to bear. Who are they ?

Winter rest. Faced with the cold, all animals are not equal. Some must migrate or hibernate, others choose hibernation. Wintering means spending the bad season in shelter, in a place protected from frost, cold, snow. Like hibernating animals, hibernating animals slow down their metabolism. They may be in a numb state and sleep a lot. They conserve their energy but do not enter a state of deep lethargy. Overview of these hibernating animals.

Brown bear

During hibernation, the brown bear can lose up to 1/4 of its weight. Here a brown bear on the beach in Hallo Bay, Alaska. Nelly Degraeve

The brown bear (Ursus arctos) contrary to popular belief does not hibernate but overwinters well. He puts his body in slow motion to make up for the lack of food. This large omnivorous mammal thus lives on its accumulated fat reserves. The plant degree halves his breathing and also lowers his heart rate (to 8-12 beats/minute). But unlike the marmot, he is not in a deep sleep. He remains on his guard and can therefore easily wake up and defend himself. The bears can thus give birth to the cubs and nurse them during this period.

The brown bear chooses a cave, a fault, an abandoned cave or digs a cave and settles there for its winter rest. During hibernation, the brown bear can lose up to 1/4 of its weight. It is between October and December that its hibernation begins and ends around March-April. Brown bears live in the USA, Canada, Western Europe, Russia, in wooded and wild areas.

  • Height: 1.50 to 2.80 m at the withers
  • Weight: 80 to 700 kg
  • Food: fish, small mammals, animal carcasses, roots, berries and fruits, acorns, grasses, plants, insects…

common badger

During its hibernation, the badger has phases of awakening. adobe stock

The common badger (Meles meles) from Europe is a mammal of the mustelidae family, which has the distinctive feature of having gray fur and a black and white head. Its tail can measure 10 to 20 cm, its legs have 5 toes and it has non-retractable claws. It lives on plains, in forests, bushes, hedges or in mountainous areas. It is an omnivorous nocturnal animal, equipped with a good sense of smell and good hearing. It settles in caves where it digs galleries.

It can hibernate in a protected place from November-December and this until April of the following year. He also makes his fat reserves. The latter has a thickness of 3 to 5 cm. that Badger slows down its metabolism and sleeps a lot during this winter period. But he too can wake up and even go for night walks!

  • Height: 30 cm at the shoulder
  • Weight: 8 to 20 kg
  • Food: small rodents (mice, voles), insects (larvae, beetles), earthworms, plants, nuts, mushrooms, snails, slugs, frogs


The ant has a thorax equipped with muscles that operate its legs. adobe stock

The ant (formicus) is an insect belonging to the Formicidae family that is completely transformed. The eggs hatch into larvae, after which the latter transform to become breeders or workers. Workers, unlike reproductives, do not have wings.

That ant has a large head with antennae, 6 legs and a thorax equipped with muscles that make the legs work. She lives in a colony in an anthill. In the winter, she practices diapause in the same way as hibernating animals. It slows down the metabolism with low temperatures and lack of food, which saves energy.

honey bee

A honey bee colony can number up to 70,000 individuals. adobe stock

honey bee, honey bee (Apis mellifica) is a hymenoptera, that is, an insect with a complete metamophore, which has 4 membranous wings, a mouth equipped with mandibles, chewing or licking. A social species, it lives in a colony consisting of 3 castes: the queen, the workers (or feeders) and the males (false drones). It can count up to 70,000 individuals.

In winter, when flower nectar becomes scarce, the hive lives in slow motion: the bees gather in clusters around the queen and the reserves of honey gathered in the summer. They lower their body temperature. In winter, the herd is thus kept at a constant temperature of 18°C, compared to the usual 35°C. The critical temperature for the cluster of bees is 8°C. They beat their wings to produce heat.

  • Size: from 11 mm to 20 mm (depending on whether it is a worker, queen or drone)
  • Weight: 0.06g to 0.08g
  • Food: honey, pollen


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