Some animals hibernate over
the winter, going into a very deep sleep.
Hibernating animals usually
retreat to a den, a burrow, or a hollow log for protection
During "true hibernation",
the animal's body temperature drops, and its rate of breathing
Most animals will eat lots
of food before hibernating, adding body fat that will feed
them and keep them warm during the winter.
When most hibernating animals
wake up in the spring, they are very hungry.
The word dormouse probably
comes from the French verb 'dormir' which means to sleep.
Common dormice hibernate from
October to April in nests on or near the ground.
They make their nests under
hedges and at the base of tree trunks.
They build up stores of body
fat in the autumn and sleep curled up in a ball.
When they are awake their
body temperature is about 34-38 degrees centigrade, but during
hibernation it drops to less than 10 degrees.
Not all animals spend the whole
Some hibernating animals wake
up if the weather is mild and may leave their nest to get
Hedgehogs hibernate for five
or six months during the winter.
It needs to be at least 500
grammes in weight in order to survive hibernation, because
its energy supply comes from fat reserves stored under its
By November most hedgehogs
have begun to hibernate.
They build nests from leaves
and grass under hedgerows, in old rabbit burrows and underneath
They carry nesting materials
in their mouth to their hideaway and burrow inside and turn
round and round to make a cozy den.
They finally wake up in March
or April when the weather is warmer and food is easier to
Your pet tortoise will need to hibernate.
The exact beginning and end
of hibernation varies from year to year but usually is between
October/November and March/April.
As the weather gets colder
the tortoise will begin to slow down and will stop eating,
this is when you should prepare the hibernation box - a cardboard
box large enough to comfortably house it.
While hibernating the tortoise
should be left alone apart from an occasional check to see
that it has not woken up.
When it does wake up in spring
you may have to unglue its eyes by gently bathing them with
wet cotton wool.
Make sure it has enough fresh
water to drink and try giving it different foods (it may not
eat at first).
It can be put outside on warm and sunny days but must not
get cold or wet.
Frogs and newts also hibernate.
The adult male frogs will hibernate
at the bottom of the pond. Female
frogs and newts will bury themselves under rocks and stones.
If you have a pond in your
garden, it is important to make sure it doesn't get iced-over
in very cold weather as hibernating frogs may suffocate.
If your pond does get a covering
of ice, make a hole in it by pouring on warm water rather
than bashing the ice with a heavy object as this may disturb
the hibernating frogs.