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Posted by on May 1, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

What Happens When Bears Hibernate?

What Happens When Bears Hibernate?

What Happens When Bears Hibernate? Bears tend to slow down during the winter, they are not true hibernators. Black bears, Grizzly bears and Brown bears do go into a deep sleep during the winter months, known as torpor.

Bears sleep because there isn’t enough food during the winter to eat. They choose a cave, a hollow tree, or dig a hole for a bed to sleep in. Their hearts and lungs work slowly. They do not eat or drink. They use the fat in their bodies for food.

Hibernation is when animals “sleep” through the winter. During this sleep, the animals will not wake up when they hear a loud noise or even if they are moved or touched.

While in torpor, the animal can wake up quickly and easily. During true hibernation, the animal’s body temperature drops to match the outside temperature and their heart rate and rate of breathing slows down.

During the bear’s dormant state or torpor, their heart rate is extremely low but their body temperature is relatively high, and they won’t eat or release bodily waste.

Animals hibernate as a way to adapt to their surroundings. They have to be able to survive the cold weather. They hibernate to escape the cold and because food is scarce.

To get ready for hibernation, animals will eat more than usual during the fall to store up body fat. During hibernation and torpor, they will use up this extra body fat to live off of while not losing any muscle.

This allows the animal to come out of hibernation thinner and still as strong as it was before winter.   They will get their dens ready for hibernation during the late fall.

Content for this question contributed by Sandra Lopez, resident of Ontario, Canada