Jenn Savedge is an environmental author and lecturer. She a former national park ranger who has written three publications on eco-friendly living

When us talk about the various methods that pets use to endure the winter, hibernation is frequently at the top of the list. Yet in reality, no that many pets truly hibernate. Countless enter a lighter state of sleep referred to as torpor. Others utilize a comparable strategy dubbed estivation in the summer months. Therefore what is the difference in between these survival tactics referred to as hibernation, torpor, and estivation? 


Hibernation is a voluntary state the an pet enters right into in stimulate to conserve energy, survive once food is scarce, and minimize their need to face the facets in the cold winter months. Think the it as a important deep sleep. It's a human body state marked by low body temperature, slow-moving breathing and also heart rate, and also low metabolic rate. It deserve to last for number of days, weeks, or months depending on the species. The state is triggered by work length and also hormone changes within the pet that show the should conserve energy.

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Before entering the hibernation stage, pets generally save fat to assist them endure the lengthy winter. They may wake increase for short periods come eat, drink, or defecate during hibernation, yet for the most part, hibernators continue to be in this low-energy state because that as lengthy as possible. Arousal indigenous hibernation takes numerous hours and also uses up lot of an animal's conserved energy reserve.

True hibernation was once a term reserved for just a brief list of pets such together deer mice, floor squirrels,​snakes, bees, woodchucks, and some bats. However today, the term has been redefined to encompass some pets that really enter a lighter state activity called torpor.


Like hibernation, torpor is a survive tactic offered by pets to make it through the winter months. It likewise involves a reduced body temperature, breath rate, love rate, and metabolic rate. But unlike hibernation, torpor appears to it is in an involuntary state that an animal enters right into as the conditions dictate. Additionally unlike hibernation, torpor lasts for brief periods that time - sometimes simply through the night or day depending on the feeding pattern of the animal. Think the it together "hibernation light."

During your active duration of the day, these animals maintain a normal body temperature and physiological rates. But while they space inactive, they go into into a depths sleep that permits them to maintain energy and also survive the winter.

Arousal indigenous torpor takes about one hour and involves violent shaking and also muscle contractions. That expends energy, yet this energy loss is counter by exactly how much power is conserved in the torpid state. This state is triggered by approximately temperature and the access of food. Bears, raccoons, and skunks room all "light hibernators" that usage torpor to survive the winter.

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Estivation—also dubbed aestivation—is an additional strategy used by pets to survive extreme temperatures and weather conditions. However unlike hibernation and also torpor, i beg your pardon are used to make it through shortened days and also colder temperatures, estivation is offered by some pets to make it through the hottest and also driest month of summer.

Similar come hibernation and also torpor, estivation is identified by a duration of inactivity and also a lower metabolic rate. Many animals, both invertebrates and also vertebrates, usage this tactic to stay cool and prevent desiccation once the temperatures room high and also water levels space low. Animals that estivate incorporate mollusks, crabs, crocodiles, part salamanders, mosquitoes, desert tortoises, the dwarf lemur, and also some hedgehogs.