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List of Animals That Hibernate

Updated July 20, 2017

Animals hibernate during months of colder weather. Hibernation starts before the climate change as the animal stocks up on more food than normal to prepare themselves for the long road ahead. Hibernation, simply put, is how animals adapt to the changing climate around them. Various species hibernate, and all do so unique to their species type.

Badgers

Badgers are commonly known as hibernators. However, they differ slightly from other hibernating animals as they have a temporary hibernation. The badgers' temperature drops only slightly during hibernation, and they awaken several times throughout the winter, making them different from true hibernators. Badgers burrow underground every night and store plenty of food throughout the winter, waking up to eat and then go back to sleep again.

Bats

Some, but not all, bats hibernate. They hang upside down in dark places, such as caves and old mines, often in groups. When hibernating, the bat's temperature drops until it is relative to the temperature outside. As long as the bat stocks up enough fat in its body before winter, it is able to hibernate for a long time. As a nocturnal species, it sleeps during the day and wakes at night, though not as when hibernating.

Squirrels, Chipmunks and Prairie Dogs

These three animals are very active during the day, gathering food to take into underground burrows at night and during hibernation. These three species hibernate for roughly half the year, sleeping during the cold. They wake up once a week for about half a day, then go back to sleep again. These species may also aestivate -- which is like hibernation during summer months to get away from the overwhelming heat in warmer climates.

Groundhogs or Woodchucks

Similar to members of the squirrel family, this species goes into burrows throughout the vast majority of the winter. They hibernate with fellow family members, rarely coming outside. Unlike squirrels, however, this species lives solely off of the fat it stores up before carrying out hibernation, never coming out of its burrow. During hibernation, they are very deep sleepers who rarely move.

Raccoons

Before winter months, Raccoons try to fatten up off of nuts and berries to prepare for the colder winter months. Raccoons are nocturnal and lose roughly half their body weight by the end of their hibernation in colder months. They have dens that are usually hollowed out logs or trees. In warmer climates, however, raccoons stay active the majority of the year.

Skunks

The skunk, famous for the foul smell it gives off when in danger, creates underground dens for colder hibernation months. When the skunk hibernates, it plugs up the openings of its den to keep as much heat in as possible. Like other animals, the skunk fattens up for winter and hibernates more like a badger. This means it is more of a temporary hibernator, waking up often to eat and then going back to sleep for about a third of the year.

Bears

Many books do not classify bears as true hibernators. This is because they are similar to badgers, skunks, raccoons and squirrels in their hibernating ways. Bears are temporary sleepers and are awake and even slightly active during the daytime. They do, however, find winter dens and make themselves beds to keep warm during the winter months. Female bears typically have their cubs during hibernation months, which lasts three to nine months. What sets a bear apart from other true hibernators is that their body temperature does not drop much and they are very light sleepers.

Cold-Blooded hibernators

Cold-blooded hibernators include bees, earthworms, lizards and snakes. These species hibernate based primarily on the climate. If it is too cold, they burrow downward to get toward the warmer earth core. If it is too hot, they try to get away from the overwhelming heat. Bees tend to be active for only a couple of months of the year, as they sit in the ground in larvae form most of the time.

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About the Author

Joe Thull started writing professionally in 2009, with work published on Cars.com and Autos.com. Thull obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Northern Colorado, with a major in sociology and minors in journalism and media studies.