Ask Dr. Universe: Why do animals hibernate?

PULLMAN, Wash. – Animals can get through winter in all kinds of ways. We cats like to curl up on a cozy couch. Some penguins huddle in groups to create heat. A lot of birds fly south to warmer weather. Perhaps you put on mittens and a coat.

Then there are the hibernators. Some of these animals are bears, skunks, bats, frogs and salamanders. Hibernation is like a deep, long winter’s sleep. But it isn’t exactly the same kind of sleep these animals would normally have at night.

Hibernation means big changes for these animals and their bodies. The reason they hibernate is to survive chilly winters, said my friend Nina Woodford. She’s the campus veterinarian here at Washington State University.

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