15 Animals That Hibernate


As winter approaches and temperatures drop, many animals have developed an incredible survival strategy known as hibernation. Hibernation is a state of sleep or rest. That allows certain animals to conserve energy and survive hard winter conditions. In this article, we will explore some of the fascinating creatures that join in this remarkable natural phenomenon. Furthermore, we will also take a closer look at a unique family experience with hibernating animals.

What Is Hibernation?

One amazing survival strategy used by some animals to preserve energy and survive challenges is hibernation. It’s quite similar to sleep, yet it’s also entirely different.

The body is not completely stationary while you sleep. However, hibernation is a passive condition. To conserve energy, animals lower their body temperature, respiration rate, and heart rate. For animals that live in areas with long, cold winters or in which food is rare, this procedure is needed.

Animals need to eat a lot before hibernating. To build up body fat that will keep them alive over the winter. Some species get ready by growing an extra thick layer of fur, just like the Arctic fox.

What Happens During Hibernation?

Here are five things that happen during hibernation:

The process of digestion slows down: The metabolic rate of animals during hibernation drops to as low as 5% of their normal rate.
Body temperature drops: The body temperature of hibernating animals decreases seriously.
Heart rate decreases: Hibernating animals feel a decrease in heart rate. With some animals’ heart rate dropping to as low as 5 beats per minute.
Breathing rate decreases: Hibernating animals’ breathing rate also decreases seriously.
Energy conservation: During hibernation, animals save energy by slowing down their body functions. And reducing movement. This makes it possible to survive hard natural conditions and food scarcity.

The time of year an animal goes into hibernation depends on its species and the current temperatures. Some animals only hibernate for a few weeks, while other true hibernators rest for moths.

List of Animals That Hibernate

How many animals hibernate? Many of them! Over 8 million animal species exist in the globe, and many of them hibernate to survive. We’ve selected only a few of the best hibernators. Because it would take too long to review every hibernating species.

1. Bears

When we think of hibernation, bears are normally the first animals that come to mind. These amazing creatures, such as black bears and grizzly bears. Prepare for winter by creating a thick layer of fat. They remove to their dens. Where their heart rate drops seriously, and their body temperature decreases. During hibernation, bears do not eat, drink, or pass waste. Relying solely on their stored fat stores to sustain themselves until spring. It is truly awe-inspiring to see these powerful animals enter a deep slumber.

Last winter, my family had the time to see the hibernation process of bears up close. We visited a wildlife sanctuary that provided a safe and controlled natural area for bears to hibernate. It was a rare feel to see these amazing creatures preparing for their long winter sleep. We learned about their unique changes and the efforts in place to protect their habitats. Seeing the peace of their den and the slow rise and fall of their chests. As they breathed deeply left a forever impression on our entire family.

2. Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemur

The fat-tailed dwarf lemur is the only known primate that can undergo a long time of both hibernation and sleep. Throughout the dry season, when water is in short supply. Madagascar’s nocturnal lemurs hibernate. In addition to hibernating, fat-tailed dwarf lemurs feel spells of heat and high heart rate.

3. Box Turtles

Turtles, as reptiles, are energetic. This means that they get their body heat from their surroundings. Rather than from their own body. Turtles should hang out when the temperature drops to save energy.

Similar to hibernation, digestion is a period of wintertime naturally. But digestion isn’t like hibernation in that it doesn’t require sleep. Box turtles normally dig a beautiful hole. And spend a few months bleeding over the winter. However, this varies according to the species.

4. Ground Squirrels

While bears are the most known hibernators. Smaller animals such as ground squirrels also join in this winter survival strategy. Ground squirrels, like the yellow-bellied squirrels and Arctic ground squirrels, dig clear caves to hibernate in. They build up fat stores during the warmer months and then take them out to their underground chambers as winter arrives. Inside their caves, their body temperature drops. And they enter a state of resting, saving energy until spring comes.

During a family trip to the mountains, we fell upon a colony of ground squirrels. We watched in excitement as these small creatures gathered food. Preparing for the colder months ahead. The guide explained how these squirrels would finally disappear underground and enter a hibernation state. We were lucky to see one squirrel disappearing into its tunnel. Saying our goodbyes until the arrival of spring. It was an inspiring feeling that stated the strength and adaptability of nature’s creatures.

5. Groundhogs

Groundhogs, normally called woodchucks, are real hibernators and have long been used to estimate the cold weather. A groundhog may lose up to 25% of its body weight over the five months it spends hibernating. Their body temperature drops from 99 to 37 degrees. Their heart rates drop from 80 to 100 beats per minute to just five to ten. And their respiration quickly slows down from 16 breaths per minute to just two during hibernation.

6. Common Poorwill

The first bird known to have gone into hibernation was the common poorwill. The common poorwill hibernate in as a result of reduced limited food and bad weather. The poorwill can stay in a sleep state for a few months. Although other birds, such as the hummingbird, migrate or go through temporary stages of sleep. The bird has a decrease in body temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate when it is in sleep.

7. Hedgehogs

In late October, hedgehogs go into a hibernation stage. They search for the finest locations to build their nests in advance. Normally under sheds or old buildings or in large piles of leaves. During hibernation, hedgehogs may wake up sometimes. As every two to four days or as rarely as once a month. Hedgehogs may move to a new nest when they awaken from sleep.

8. Wood Frogs

A wood frog that is hibernating may be what you find if it’s late winter. Or early spring and it’s not moving. The wood frog’s heart stops working while it hibernates. And between 35 and 45 percent of its body freezes. During the winter, wood frogs feel multiple freeze-thaw cycles. The frogs defrost in the spring and resume their reproduction and feeding routines.

9. Bats


Many bat species hibernate during the winter months. Seeking out caves, mines, or other sheltered locations. Where they can hang upside down in clusters. During hibernation, bats feel a significant drop in body temperature and metabolic rate.

10. Dormice

These small, mouse-like rodents are adept hibernators. Dormice build nests in trees or underground. And spend the winter months in a deep sleep. Awakening in spring when food becomes more abundant.

11. Snakes

Some snake species, such as timber rattlesnakes and garter snakes. Hibernate in underground dens known as hibernacula during the winter. They gather in large groups to conserve body heat and reduce energy expenditure.

12. Snails

While not all snails hibernate, the process is interesting when it does. Any extreme weather conditions can cause snails to hibernate. Including hot weather (estivation) and freezing weather. They are prepared for every weather situation because they have a built-in hibernating area. Snails can utilize slime to seal their shells. And shield themselves from the weather during hibernation and estivation. Snails can hibernate for a few months, depending on the species.

13. Skunks

Although they cannot hibernate like hedgehogs, skunks can feel a state of sleep. Skunks in northern locations go to sleep for a few months at a time. In more southern places, the season of resting is somewhat shorter. Skunks will spend more time in their dens during a sleep phase. Only emerging from them sometimes to search for food. Moreover, along with breathing more slowly. Their body temperature and heart rate will also drop.

14. Bumblebees

While some bees do not hibernate, bumblebees do. When the queen bumblebee rises from her winter hibernation underground in the spring. The bumblebee life cycle officially begins. Male bees and new queens are set after the queen’s worker bee broods. The old queen and the worker bees perish at the end of the cycle. The cycle restarts when the newly hatched queens begin to hibernate beneath and feed on food.

15. Salamanders

Salamanders are a type of amphibian that has evolved to survive cold temperatures. However, this species is distributed around the globe. They are well-known for their capacity to breathe via both their skin and lungs. And for having silky, moisturized skin. They also possess the amazing capacity to regrow missing body parts, such as tails and limbs. This is useful for resisting attackers.

Salamanders usually eat insects, small mammals, and even other salamanders as food. These lizards hide out in tunnels and cracks in the rock during the winter, when they hibernate.


Hibernation is a remarkable adaptation that enables various animals to survive the hard conditions of winter. From bears taking out to their dens to ground squirrels creating a tunnel deep underground. And bats seeking shelter in caves. Moreover, each creature’s hibernation strategy is unique. Our family feels that these hibernating animals provided us with memories. And educational insights into the wonders of the natural world. However, it served as a reminder of the importance of preserving. And protecting these remarkable creatures and their habitats for future generations to enjoy.


What is hibernation?

Hibernation is a state of long sleep or resting that certain animals enter to conserve energy during the winter months. However, it involves a significant reduction in metabolic rate, body temperature, and activity level.

Why do animals hibernate?

Animals hibernate to survive in natural areas with limited food resources and very cold temperatures. By entering a state of sleep, they can reduce energy and rely on stored fat stores until favorable conditions return.

Which animals hibernate?

Some animals that hibernate include bears (such as black bears and grizzly bears). Ground squirrels (like yellow-bellied marmots and Arctic ground squirrels). Bats, hedgehogs, snakes, and some species of frogs and turtles.

Where do hibernating animals find shelter?

However, Hibernating animals seek shelter in various locations. Depending on the species. Bears find refuge in dens or caves. Ground squirrels create a tunnel underground. Bats roost in caves or attics. Moreover, other animals may utilize caves, leaf litter, or hollow logs.

How long do animals hibernate?

The duration of hibernation varies among species. Moreover, some animals may hibernate for a few weeks. While others can remain in a state of sleep for a few months. It depends on factors such as the availability of food.  Environmental conditions, and the animal’s metabolic rate.

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