Hibernation is common for not only warm-blooded mammals but cold-blooded animals as well! Both types of living creatures undergo some type of dormancy and need to prepare in order to do so. We’ve compiled a list of 50 fascinating creatures that hibernate year in and year out. Incorporate the below lessons into your Winter curriculum to get your learners’ little minds turning and tuned in to what’s happening in the animal world around them.
These garden gastropods do not like the warmer months because the heat tends to dry out their skin. Therefore, snails burrow underground for short bouts of Summer hibernation on especially hot days. This helps to maintain their mucus layer.
Learn More: Country Living
2. Lady Bugs
Similar to snails, ladybugs also experience hibernation during the Summer. The hot weather dries out aphids, which are the ladybug’s main food source. Once the rain comes back, ladybugs have access to food and are active again.
Learn More: Country Living
3. Arctic Ground Squirrels
Not to be confused with tree squirrels, these ground squirrels will spend up to eight Winter months in hibernation. During their underground burrow, the squirrels will come out periodically to move, eat, and rewarm themselves.
Learn More: Alaska.gov
4. Fat-Tailed Dwarf Lemur
These cute tropical mammals of Madagascar have a hibernation period lasting anywhere from three to seven months. During hibernation, they experience changes in body temperature. This results in periodic arousals to rewarm themselves.
Learn More: Smithsonian Magazine
5. Ice Crawler
Since the Ice Crawler is a cold-blooded ectotherm, it technically does not hibernate. Instead, its Winter rest is called brumation, or diapause, because they venture about on slightly warmer Winter days to absorb heat under the hot sun.
Learn More: University of Texas
6. Box Turtles
Wouldn’t this guy make a cool pet? The box turtle will brumate during its dormant period by finding a new home under loose soil. Here is a fun fact: these guys are able to live through short bouts of freezing temperatures that cause their organs to ice over!
Learn More: Mass Audubon
7. Brown Bears
Here is the most epic and well-known mammalian hibernator. These hibernators are most commonly seen in Alaska and Yellowstone National Park. However, you will not be able to see them during the cold months of October, November, and December while they are sleeping.
Learn More: National Park Service
8. Black Bears
Did you know that these sharp-clawed black bears can go many months without excreting any bodily fluids? Talk about being a camel! Fun fact: female bears hibernate longer than their male counterparts because the Winter months are when they give birth.
Learn More: FLLT.org
9. Garter Snakes
While there are many types of mild venom snakes that hibernate, the garter snake is one that stands out. From October all the way to April, these guys like to go underground to avoid the cold months and shed a layer of skin.
Learn More: Science
10. Queen Bumblebees
I always knew there was a “Queen Bee”, but I did not realize there was also a distinction between worker bees and male bees. Queen bees nest in the Spring before hibernating for nine months. During this time, they leave the workers and males to perish.
Learn More: Bumblebee Conservation Trust
Do you have a compost heap, or compost bin, set up in your backyard? If so, frogs and other reptiles may be using it as a safe haven for their Winter hibernation. When you go to use that gardener’s gold in the Spring, be gentle on these little guys!
Learn More: Frog Life
12. Pygmy Possum
The Pygmy Possum is an Australian animal that will hibernate for an entire year! This is the longest hibernation known to man, and that must be why those solid black eyes are so enormous! Imagine your eyes being so well-rested for that long.
Learn More: Australian Geographic
13. Short Beaked Echidna
The Short Beaked Echidna experiences a decline in body temperature while in hibernation. Their body temperature drops to become one with the soil so they can effectively mold with the earth from February all the way to May.
Learn More: Australian Geographic
14. Common Poorwill
These human-shy animals stock up on their food supply before the seasonal lack of food ensues. The Common Poorwill is a Western United States bird that is able to slow down its breathing and drop its heart rate as it enters torpor.
Learn More: Audubon
Did you know that bats are the only mammals that can fly? That’s right! Birds are avians, not mammals, so they do not count. A bat in hibernation is actually called its torpor. They will stay in torpor for about seven months, or until insects come back for them to eat.
Learn More: North American Nature
The state of Connecticut has two animals that hibernate, and this is one of them. Before their Winter hibernation, these soft-bodied creatures make sure they have sufficient food to maintain a normal body temperature through the Winter.
Learn More: Earth Place
There is some argument about squirrels and chipmunks being one and the same, and that is true! Chipmunks are really just very small squirrels. This member of the squirrel family may appear dead when they are actually just sleeping soundly.
Learn More: NWF.org
18. Jumping Mice
The Jumping Mouse will spend six months underground. As this animal burrows under frozen soil, they slow their breathing rate, making them need less oxygen. Their very long tail acts as a fat reserve to keep them alive in the cold weather.
Butterflies are everyone’s favorite insect. There is a short time when they, and moths, are not active. Becoming inactive is not exactly hibernation, but rather dormancy. This allows them to survive the extreme cold.
Learn More: Butterfly Conservation
20. Tawny Frogmouth
Another animal that undergoes torpor, similar to bats, is the Tawny Frogmouth. When the sun comes out and the air is warmer, these large birds will come out to eat. Since a hibernating animal primarily relies on stored body fat rather than snacking, this bird enters torpor instead.
Learn More: Science.org
If you decide to put food out for your neighborhood hedgehog, be sure to slowly decrease the amount you are feeding them rather than suddenly stopping. This is because they might still need your help to fatten up until their winter hibernation begins.
Learn More: Hedge Hog Street
22. The Hazel Dormouse
Rather than going underground like many other hibernators, the Hazel Dormouse enters its period of inactivity on the ground surrounded by leaves. Their tail is just as long as their bodies and they use them to wrap around their heads for safety in case they are stepped on.
Learn More: Woodland Trust
23. Prairie Dogs
Prairie Dogs are very vocal animals, especially when a dangerous animal is nearby. They build underground tunnels to live with their coteries (families) and eat plants. Their period of hibernation involves snippets of torpor sleep underground.
Learn More: Tumbleweeds Magazine
24. Alpine Marmots
The Alpine Marmot prefers to dig a home under the soil when cold temperatures begin. These burrowing herbivores will spend nine whole months in hibernation! They depend on their extremely thick fur to keep them warm.
Learn More: Animalia
Like many of the above-mentioned animals, skunks can extend periods of sleep without actually hibernating. Skunks undergo a Winter slow-down time that keeps them sleeping through the coldest climates. This is why you rarely smell skunks during the winter!
Learn More: NY State Parks
Hummingbirds, despite their tiny stature, are known for entering a state called torpor during cold nights to conserve energy. Their heart rate and body temperature significantly drop, allowing them to survive chilly nights until they can feed again with the morning sun.
Learn More: Science News
27. European Hedgehogs
European hedgehogs are known for their hibernation behavior. During the colder months, they seek shelter and hibernate to conserve energy. Their body temperature drops and their metabolic rate slows down, entering a state of torpor until warmer weather returns.
Learn More: Love The Garden
28. Edible Dormice
Edible dormice are known for their long hibernation periods that can last up to 11 months in the wild. They find a secure, sheltered spot and reduce their metabolic rate to conserve energy during the harsh winter months.
Learn More: Science Friday
29. Yellow-Bellied Marmots
These large rodents hibernate for approximately 8 months in a year. As social animals, they hibernate in groups in burrows to retain heat and conserve energy during the harsh winter months, emerging only when the weather warms.
Learn More: Daily Mail
30. Columbian Ground Squirrels
These small mammals are known for their hibernation routine, often hibernating for 7 to 8 months a year. During hibernation, their body temperature drops drastically, and they enter a state of torpor to conserve energy.
Learn More: New Hampshire PBS
31. Common Poorwills
Common poorwills are the only bird species known to hibernate. During colder months when insects are scarce, they enter a state of torpor, reducing their metabolic rate to conserve energy until food becomes available again.
Learn More: Audubon
Endemic to Madagascar, Tenrecs are known to hibernate during the dry season to conserve energy and water. They find sheltered spots and reduce their metabolic activities to survive the harsh conditions.
Learn More: Nature
These microscopic roundworms can enter a state of suspended animation known as cryptobiosis during unfavorable conditions, including extreme temperatures. In this state, they can survive without water and extreme temperatures until conditions become favorable again.
Learn More: Mother Nature
Lungfish have the ability to enter a state of estivation, which is similar to hibernation, during dry periods. They encase themselves in a cocoon of mucus and mud to retain moisture and survive until water returns.
Learn More: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance
35. Death’s Head Cockroach
These cockroaches are known to enter a hibernation-like state during colder months, hiding away in warm, dark places. Their metabolic rate slows down to conserve energy until favorable conditions return.
Learn More: Belfast Zoo
36. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Similar to the Death’s Head Cockroach, the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach will also seek shelter during colder periods, slowing their metabolism to conserve energy and survive until warmer conditions prevail.
Learn More: Zoo Montana
37. Spadefoot Toads
Spadefoot toads can burrow deep into the ground and enter a state of torpor during dry or cold periods. They can remain in this state for several months until favorable conditions return.
Learn More: World Atlas
Earthworms will burrow deep into the soil to escape freezing temperatures during winter. In this semi-hibernation state, they slow down their metabolism and can survive on stored nutrients until the weather warms.
Learn More: Pets On Mom.com
39. European Adders
These snakes seek refuge in the underground during the winter months to escape the cold. They enter a state of brumation, a hibernation-like state, slowing down their metabolic rate and conserving energy until warmer weather returns.
Learn More: Critter Science
40. Carpenter Ants
During the winter months, carpenter ants will enter a state of torpor to conserve energy. They retreat to their nests and become inactive as their metabolic rate slows down significantly until temperatures rise again.
Learn More: Consumera
41. Red-eared Sliders
These turtles enter a state of brumation during the winter months, slowing down their metabolism and retreating to the bottom of ponds and lakes to survive the cold temperatures until spring arrives.
Learn More: Animal Spot
42. Painted Turtles
Like red-eared sliders, painted turtles also brumate during winter. They bury themselves in mud at the bottom of water bodies, slowing down their metabolism to conserve energy until warmer weather returns.
Learn More: Southwick’s Zoo
43. Snapping Turtles
Snapping turtles follow a similar brumation pattern, retreating to the mud at the bottom of water bodies, reducing their metabolic rate to survive the cold winter months until spring arrives.
Learn More: YouTube
44. Little Brown Bats
These bats are known for their hibernation behavior during winter months. They find dark, secluded spots and enter a state of torpor to conserve energy, reducing their metabolic rate drastically until food becomes available again.
Learn More: USGS
45. Big Brown Bats
Big brown bats follow a similar hibernation pattern to the little brown bats, retreating to secluded spots to conserve energy during the winter months when insects, their primary food source, are scarce.
Learn More: iNaturalist
46. Vampire Bats
While not true hibernators, vampire bats can enter a state of torpor during cooler periods or when food is scarce. They slow down their metabolic rate to conserve energy until they can feed again.
Learn More: National Geographic Kids
47. Deer Mice
Deer mice enter a state of torpor during colder months, conserving energy by slowing down their metabolism and seeking shelter to stay warm until food becomes more abundant.
Learn More: AZ Animals
48. White-Tailed Prairie Dogs
White-tailed prairie dogs hibernate during the winter months to conserve energy. They retreat to their burrows, slowing down their metabolism to survive the colder period.
Learn More: Animalia
49. Western Toads
Western toads hibernate during the winter months, burrowing underground to escape freezing temperatures and entering a state of torpor to conserve energy until spring arrives.
Learn More: Following Deer Creek
50. North American Raccoons
North American raccoons have a hibernation-like behavior during extremely cold periods, retreating to their dens, slowing their metabolism, and sleeping for extended periods to conserve energy until food becomes more abundant.
Learn More: Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park